I've never even considered "The Big One" really... I think that's probably all just media hype.
I'm rather aware of the many frequent minor ones that we've had and will get in the future, especially when I'm just setting stuff up around the new house - thinking will this fall over/off when we get a shaker
? We'll usually feel the jolts or rolls from the smaller ones every month or two here in L.A. We've had so many, that we don't even give them a second thought anymore.
Fortunately I wasn't living down here during the last big one in Northridge
. But I was knee deep in the aftermath, helping my girlfriend's brother and one of my best friends move out of their Northridge apartments after they were both pretty much destroyed. It looked like a war zone throughout the entire city. Terrible devastation everywhere. People lined up for blocks just trying to buy some drinking water from the few stores that made it through the ordeal relatively unscathed.
When that Northridge quake hit, I was actually on the 29th floor of one of the big hotels in Las Vegas
, and let me tell you - it was by far the
scariest moment of my entire life! We were just going to bed for the night, when I felt the bed start to move. Thinking I must've just had a couple drinks too many, I tried to ignore it. But then I saw the hanging ceiling lamp in the room seriously start swinging back and forth! There were two options at this point - a nasty ghost in the room (unlikely
), or the more dreaded option of an earthquake...
I hopped out of bed, and realized just how bad this one was, as I felt like I was surfing right there on the hotel room floor! The entire building was swaying back and forth, in a MAJOR way. I was sure that the epicenter of this earthquake was actually centered in
Las Vegas, and was almost positive that our entire hotel was going to topple over very soon. I rustled my former girlfriend out of bed, grabbed a couple things, and we made for the stairwell with lightning speed...
As we were running down the hallway, we finally noticed the swaying had finally stopped - after what seemed like several minutes. We figured everything was probably fine at that point, and decided to head back to the room, and turn on the tube to see how much damage was done in Vegas. It was only then, to our surprise, that we found out that this quake was all the way out in Northridge, CA. I knew then, that if we felt it this bad all the way out in Vegas - 5 or 6 hours away, that Northridge must've been absolutely destroyed.
We immediately started calling our friends and family in Northridge to see if everyone was OK. Little tricky back then, since cell phones weren't running nearly as rampant. Finally got word that those that we knew were all fine. We wound up cutting our gambling trip short, and driving out to Northridge first thing in the morning to help those we knew, and to check out the damage. It was terrible
. Looked like parts of L.A. from a couple years earlier, after the L.A. riots and devastation following the Rodney King verdict...
I travel right through Northridge now on my daily commute, and my wife teaches at Cal State Northridge, so hopefully nothing like this ever happens there (or anywhere) again. But somehow I doubt that...
Of course, the baseball fans (and obviously any NoCal folks) in here will likely remember the shock of the World Series broadcast, and ensuing devastating footage from the terrible earthquake up in San Fran/Oakland. A lot of my good friends were affected by that one as well... Just terrible what mother nature can bring to the table.
Of course, California can have it's quakes, floods, and fires - but at least we don't have those damned hurricanes or tornadoes, that seem to happen with much greater frequency down in the South East... Good luck and best wishes to all of you guys out on the East Coast this week!