Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Big Rumble - 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake 20th Anniversary

The city of San Francisco is preparing to rumble to mark the 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, the largest since the Great Quake of 1906.

Called 'The Big Rumble', the anniversary will be in the form of 'Where Were You In '89?' neighbourhood block parties, and city-organized activities. The aim is to raise

awareness in preparation for the next widely-anticipated Great Quake to hit the city.

Events will start on Monday, October 12, and run every day to the anniversary date of the quake, Saturday, October 17. At the closing ceremony, there will be a fundraising launch to build a monument to honour the city's firefighters.

Kickoff is in the City Hall with a panel of disaster responders discussing advances made in emergency planning and quake protection since 1989, with a presentation on the last quake. On Thursday there will be a California-wide Drop, Cover and Hold Drill, and on Saturday the street parties and four Preparedness Fairs across the city will be held.

The 1989 quake was the largest on the San Andreas fault since what is known as the Great Quake of San Francisco of 1906, for which the city still holds annual commemorations with a few remaining survivors.

The Loma Prieta quake struck across Central California with a magnitude of 6.9. It killed 63 people, injured 3,757, made over 12,000 people homeless and caused about $6 - $10 billion in property damage. San Francisco suffered about $3 billion of damage.

From the city, one of the most memorable news shots was of a collapsed section of the Bay Bridge - see pic above taken from USGS website - where one female driver died and her passenger was severely injured when the driver failed to see the gap and stop in time and her car fell into the broken section.

The quake was also famous in news shots around the world as it occurred during the warm-up of a World Series baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Raiders and was caught live on camera at the Giants' former Candlestick Park stadium.

Its epicenter was in the Santa Cruz Mountains in the forest of Nisene Marks State Park, near Santa Cruz and just south of the Loma Prieta Mountain after which it was named. Near the epicenter it was recorded as beginning at 5:04:21 p.m., and arrived at the Presidio next to the Golden Gate Bridge at 5:04:37 with the heaviest shaking recorded at 5:04:47 p.m.

Along the coast, a four-foot tsunami wave rose up in Monterey Bay, there was a landslide under the sea, and the sea level in Santa Cruise harbour fell by three feet. A magnitude 5.2 aftershock struck 37 minutes after the initial shock and altogether 51 aftershocks of magnitude 3.0 and larger occurred during the first day.

Looters were warned that they would face jail and no bail, and a 24-year-old man was shot by a distressed motorist when he was caught stealing traffic flares from volunteers.

In order to encourage people to remember and prepare, The Big Rumble 'has worked closely with San Francisco SAFE Inc, The American Red Cross, the Neighborhood Empowerment Network, the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services and the Department of Parking and Traffic to help you produce a one-of-a-kind fun filled day for your community.'

Limited grants to help towards some of the street costs of a block party are being offered, with applications needing to be in by next Wednesday, Sept 23.

In the aftermath of the 1989 quake, US Geological Survey scientists said they stood by their report warning of a major earthquake in Southern California by 2018. Last year, earthquake experts forecast a Great Quake over the next 30 years, ie by 1938.

More info:

For events info and toolkits:

USGS - US Geological Survey - Earthquake Hazards Program

San Francisco Earthquake History 1915-1989

pics of the quake are taken from the USGS website. They show: the Bay Bridge; devastation in the Marina District; cars crushed near 5th and Townsend where five people died

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