As the anniversary date of the Loma Prieta earthquake in California, it is only fitting that today be the date on which the Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills be held. From the ShakeOut website, "Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills are an annual opportunity for people in homes, schools, and organizations to practice what to do during earthquakes, and to improve preparedness."
Not only was I one of the millions who survived the Loma Prieta earthquake*; but, I've since participated in at least one of the Great ShakeOut exercises - at the FEMA Region VII Regional Coordination Center. No, I did not make a special trip to Kansas City MO for the exercise. I was there working the response to a tornado in St Louis MO in 2011.
* In 1989, although domiciled in Albuquerque NM, I had an apartment in Sunnyvale CA, in which I was working on the Rail Garrison program, one of the few classified programs on which I can tell you I worked. The apartment was only a few-minutes' drive from my work site. It was on October 17, 1989, at the end of my work day, when I was stopped at a stoplight (on N Mary at the intersection with the Central Expressway entrance, just short of the apartment complex. My car started rocking. Mistaking the motion for a bad case of engine miss-firing in my 1982 Mazda 626, I immediately cut off the ignition. I then observed that other people, across the intersection from me, were stopping and getting out to look at their tires. Oh, yes. We were having an earthquake - a major one! Upon that realization, I took stock of my situation: there were no major structures to fall on me; but, I thought that I might be above the BART tunnel, which didn't make me comfortable.
Eventually, the rocking and rolling stopped, and I drove the short distance to the apartment complex. As I drove through the main gate, the young women who worked in the office met me, afoot, to ask, "Was that a big one?" Yes, I assured them, it was big. They then told me how the water had slopped out of the swimming pool and toppled the palm trees around it. Going to my apartment, I feared the worst - that my recently acquired computer may have topped off the folding table (an oaken TV tray - I had no TV so wasn't apt to take meals from the tray - lol.) Inside the apartment, I was relieved to find that the only thing misplaced was the roll of paper towels that had toppled from the top of the refrigerator. The computer was just as I had left it - placed catawampus on the folding table to provide greater stability.
Having heard on the radio that there were fatalities on a collapsed bridge across Oakland Bay, I called Hunky Husband to assure him that I was OK (he had flown back home to Kansas, just that morning, from spending the weekend with me; so he escaped having the first-hand experience.) He had gone to bed, early, feeling ill; so, he was in no mood to speak with me. I called our daughters who informed me that there was huge TV coverage on the event.
The next morning, I drove to work, only to find that a street on which I normally approached the facility was blocked off. The bolts (3" diameter, as I recall) that had secured the supports to the facility's water tower had sheared, and the tower was being removed to assure that it did not fall, with attendant possible injuries and at the least blocking the street. Only managers were being allowed into the campus of buildings where I worked. As an employee of a contractor, my management status was not recognized by the security guards. Strangely, the men who reported to me were allowed in. (Can you spell "sexist"?) I returned in a few hours to resume work.
Other than the hundreds of aftershocks (thousands, if counting those sensed only by instrumentation), the affect to my life was over; but, the San Francisco Bay area spent years replacing the collapsed bridge and, of course, life was never the same for the families and friends of those who died. As it turned out, I had been about 1/2-way between the epicenter of the quake and the bridge. There were some 50-65 fatalities and the quake was determined to have been 6.9 on the open-ended Richter Scale (surface-wave magnitude 7.1).