Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for Quakes, 1991 - 1994

My thoughts go out to the people of Texas and the small town of West. While I continue to keep the people of Boston, who suffered so much, in my thoughts, I hope that the FBI have the right guys and that they will be captured soon. Then I heard about flooding in Illinois and other states around there, and tornadoes in the south; since my next posts, Q and R, are about disasters that I have lived through during my 50 Years in America, I feel tired and sad. 

So this is what I will do: I'm posting my Q post about Quakes, since they are natural disasters, not something some crazy person or two created. But I will scrap my post about the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. I can always post it some other time. I will find something else for the letter R.

Theme ~ My 50 Years in America 

Arne and Doris, two old Swedes, friends of my mother's, were visiting us in Pasadena when the Sierra Madre earthquake hit. It was very close, the house was shaking, Doris was shrieking, and Arne came out of the bathroom, yelling, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't mean for this to happen!" As it turns out, at just the moment the quake hit, Arne had inserted his electric shaver in the bathroom socket. So the poor man thought he had caused the the whole thing.

Arne gets on camera while

 checking out earthquake damage to a Pasadena church

Three Swedes enjoying some down-home American cooking, courtesy my hubby.

Of course, an earthquake is no laughing matter, as we found out in the early morning hours of January 17, 1994. I fell on to the floor as I woke up, the house was shaking violently -- so violently I couldn't stand, my husband and I crawled toward each other and held on.

Samantha, the cat and Sundance, the Dobie

After the shaking stopped, we took Sundance, our dog, and Samantha, the only cat we could find, and went outside where we met some neighbors. We all sat in our van for a while, watching the disaster unfold on its tiny TV.  

Later that day, a frantic search for our other cat, Sindbad, ensued. We walked up and down the streets, calling his name, looking up in trees, and down into crawlspaces, calling, calling -- no cat. A day or so later he appeared, calm as anything. I guess he figured the worst was over.

Our chimney stands tall after my husband rebuilt it.

A big chunk of the 10 freeway collapsed on a major street near us. It was shocking to see the power of this 6.7 earthquake in our neighborhood, even though the epicenter was many miles away. Our neighborhood was old, so walls and chimneys came down, there were bricks and glass everywhere. Our brick chimney was badly damaged and we later got FEMA money to fix it. 

This may or may not be a picture of the collapse of the 10 Fwy, but it looked like this. 

Several people lost their lives, aftershocks went on for days, and the damage to freeways, bridges, and buildings all across the area was immense. It happened at 4:30 in the morning, so few people were on the freeways. Had it happened during rush hour, the toll in life would have been horrendous. 

As an asides: Our little town here in the mountains was almost completely wiped out in 1952 when it was hit by a 7.2 earthquake, one of the largest in California history.

Source: Wikipedia


  1. My daughter and her family live in Santa Cruz which had a 7.1 quake back in '89. She did not move there till the mid '90's, but since she works on a road named San Andreas, I am always worried when I hear about an earthquake in Ca.

  2. Wow Inger I have never experienced anything like this and I felt chills reading this. Nature is so beautiful but can be so deadly.
    I am so sorry for the people of West Texas it is so sad. My thoughts are with them. Hug B

  3. We felt a 7.2 quake in AZ...and I don't think I would want to be near buildings at the time...

  4. I have never been in a quake thank you - but I do remember the one on Fwy. 10 - that was so awful. sandie

  5. That would have been scary, Inger, and I've felt the tremors several times here in Vancouver (we're the other end of the San Andreas fault).

    The worst was during a workday, at a 21 floor office bldg (I was on the 11th floor)we got under our desks to ride out the subsequent tremors - it was a rolling motion because our building had been built to withstand earthquakes by rolling with the punches (tremors).
    The first thing I thought of was 'how and where is my family right now'. Very scary.

    Looking forward to the remainder of your posts. I like that photo of the boat lunch.

  6. just incredible force. poor arne. made me laugh. and that photo of the 3 of you eating ribs (a nice R subject) made me smile. :)

  7. Your post shows so well the variety of the human experience. From the frightening of the tremors to the humour that Arne should have put two and two and come up with five. And then a beautiful chimney put back together by a talented husband. Brilliant stuff!

  8. Earthquakes
    They come when they are ready and we all take our chances.
    Poor Arne, thinking he had caused it with his electric shaver.
    I should have been an engineer. When I see a bridge like that, I always wonder how they can get the debris up without it falling below and wrecking the houses.

  9. As a former Vancouver-ite, I'm no stranger to quakes. They can be terrifying! I love the photo of the three of you enjoying your dinner! Reminds me of my old family photos:)

  10. i remember this quake and watching it on the news and after i watched the movie Earthquake, i said i will never even visit CA... glad you were ok and i got a great laugh out of him thinking he causes the house to shake. to funny. glad you and the pets were ok through it all since now you have your blog to remember.

  11. I've never lived through a quake but my nephew was in Japan during the horrific quake two years ago and his stories alone horrified me.

    On a brighter note, love the pic of you Swedes enjoying the down-home cooking. :)

  12. I remember the 1994 quake and how the freeway collapsed. Fortunately it was an off-time for heavy traffic.

  13. I was born & raised in Los Angeles & have lived here almost my whole life, so I've been through several earthquakes. They don't frighten me at all. I've never been in a hurricane or a tornado--hope I never will be!!

  14. Never been in a quake and hope never to be in one.

  15. Sorry but I did chuckle at poor Arne. I have never been through a quake and find them hard to imagine. Hopefully I won't ever have to though I am entirely too close to the Madrid fault.

  16. We had an earthquake when we lived in Illinois. I thought a plane was flying too low over our house. The Hurricane lives in California and experienced her first quake last year. She didn't like it and said it was rather disconcerting. I agree with her. Quakes are no fun.


  17. In the UK we may not get much sunshine but we don't have earthquakes or the kind of extreme weather like you guys do,it all sounds very scary.
    Is Anyone There

  18. I take an earthquake any time over a hurricane or a tornado. Particularly a tornado.

  19. Well, I hope you are quake-free for years to come. You've earned it!

    Jenny at Choice City Native

  20. I have only been in a small tremor. Can't imagine being in a true earthquake.

  21. I was wondering what it would be like to live in an earthquake zone Inger. Then I read your reply above about not wanting to live in a Hurricane we do here in Nova Scotia. Now I know that the two have least the anticipation of and the aftermath.
    Great photos and account of this time in your life.

  22. I've lived through a fairly large earthquake (7+) and several tornadoes. Mother nature can be mighty fierce.

  23. I was living in So Cal during the '94 earthquake. We gathered our four little children in the living room and slept together there the rest of the night in case we needed to make a quick escape.

  24. Hi Inger - I've never been in a quake .. but felt the mineshafts altering their state under Johannesburg ..

    I hope your little town remains secure for 100 years .. that should see you out!

    Cheers Hilary

  25. I applaud you for having the stamina and guts to stay there knowing that another quake could come. We worry about hurricanes and now fires, so I guess it's all relative.
    Take care please!

  26. We had a lot of damage in the Whittier quake, and slight damage, more to things than the structure, in the Sierra Madre. I have lived in California my whole life and have experienced a great many quakes. They are frightening, to be sure!!

  27. We had a lot of damage in the Whittier quake, and slight damage, more to things than the structure, in the Sierra Madre. I have lived in California my whole life and have experienced a great many quakes. They are frightening, to be sure!!

  28. I'd rather face a hurricane I've had days of warning to prepare for! How scary to be awakened by that strong a quake.


Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger


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