Thursday, November 13, 2008

Earthquake Fun on Corralitas Drive

Photo: Diane Edwardson, 2008. The view from atop Corralitas is what realtors call, "city lights." (Click on photo to enlarge.)

The 1994 Northridge Earthquake was just another reason for neighbors atop Corralitas to party. In any earthquake, the log cabin dwellers are always the first in the street. (It's best to get our front doors open in case the logs shift.) Leon's dog, Woofgang, found me tangled up in my sheets, as I'd fallen to the floor and couldn't get up. Kat made it to the front door and was already a part of the growing crowd in the street. Woof knew I was missing and brought me a wet tennis ball.

Throwing on a bathrobe, grabbing a flashlight and entering the kitchen, I was shocked. I had never seen the City below so pitch black. The power was out everywhere. Joining the always boisterous Corralitas crowd in the street in front of the log cabins, we took count of who was missing.

Jim V. jumped in his car to make sure the 2 Freeway ramps at Rosebud as well as Riverside Drive had not collapsed. (It was so dark, we could not see the 2 Freeway below us.) We would really be on our own if that happened, as emergency vehicles would have to be willing to take the Red Car Property to reach us - if no landslides blocked the canyon - and we would likely have to give them directions.

We quickly organized ourselves to check on our elderly neighbor, Inez; in addition to other neighbors who lived by themselves; check for gas leaks and check on Richard & Noriko's house, since they were out of the country.

As we rounded the corner on our way to check on Patti, we gasped when we saw no lights in Glendale at all. We knew it was bad. The sun wouldn't be up for hours. Aftershocks rumbled through. I'd never seen more stars in the sky above Los Angeles. We passed neighbors huddled inside their front doors who signaled to us with flashlights. Everyone was shaken, but OK. No one was having as much fun as Woofgang. Everyone was willing to throw the ball for Woof that morning.

We got to Patti as she was loading the truck to go to work. As a video journalist for a local station, she got the immediate pager message from Cal Tech: it was likely a 7.0 in Northridge. She asked us to check on her house once the sun came up and feed her cat since might not be home for a few days.

By the time we came back up the hill, Leon had made coffee and Peggy shared muffins she'd just baked the day before. We discussed food and water supplies and exchanged tales of earthquakes past. Jim R. and Ralph brought out battery operated TVs. We hung out in the street until the sun came up. No one could go back to sleep. As usual, the top part of Corralitas saw it as an excuse to party.

Days later, other neighbors told me they wished they'd joined us since we were all better adjusted in the days after the quake than those who had not joined the party. It pays to know your neighbors.

Even with only a 6.7 earthquake in Northridge, we were under a "boil water order" for 3 days.
With a major quake on the San Andreas, we could be without water for weeks. Use today's "Great Southern California Shakeout" as an excuse to prepare for the next big earthquake. USGS has some good earthquake preparedness info on their website.