Friday, May 24, 2013

Stormy Weather

Today and the next three to four days the forecast says there's a good chance for thunderstorms and rain. Uh-huh. There's also a good chance I will win the lottery. Today the storm clouds went right over us. It looked like it was threatening to do all matter of nasty things to us this evening. Did it? Why no! That will be the last time I believe the weather man threatening me with a good time.

It also gave us a somewhat somber sunset. Well. I guess I lied a little bit. It did put down a four inch rain...four inches between each raindrop. If I had walked fast enough I could have out dodged them all.

Oh well. someone received some rain and that is a good thing.

Storm clouds over Terlingua at Sunset 052313

Prickly Pear pad with a new pad.

There was a relatively small earthquake in northern California today. 5.7 on the richter scale in Greenville, CA. I despise earthquakes. It is the most unsettling experience I have every been through and I don't care to go through it if I can help it again. You can't run from it. You can't see it. You can't hide from it. Whether you're on the ground or on the 7th or 3rd floor of an apartment building there is just one thing you can count's a free ride and you didn't have to wait in line for it. Dive under a table, brace yourself in a door frame, stay away from windows, and then pray. By the time it's over, those rosary beads will have been rubbed into a much smaller bead let me tell you.

Everyone that lived in San Francisco in October 17th, 1989 has a story about where they were or what they were doing at the time. Me? Oh, I was on the road in my little Chevy Chevette. It was a good car and I never had any problems with it until that wonderful sunny warm day. I was returning from Travis AFB where I had to do finish up some out processing work. There were four lanes on I-80 going west towards Oakland and eventually crossing over the Oakland - San Francisco Bay Bridge into San Francisco. I was on that road just enjoying the sunshine with my window down and letting in the warm air. Suddenly I had a very difficult time keeping my car in my lane. A few days previous I had the tires balanced. If they are not balanced a car tends to shimmy. I said to no one in particular, "Dang it! I've been ripped off! I'm going to have to take the car back to the garage mechanic and tell him my tires are still unbalanced!" Well. I was so busy trying to keep the car in my lane that I had not noticed a huge semi in the lane to the right of me and I thought, "Oh lord how mercy" I was trying so hard to keep my tiny little vehicle from sliding neatly under the trailer of the semi. I thought again to myself, "I hate it when they put those grooves in the freeway." I thought perhaps that might have been the reason also for my car to shimmy all over the place. Those dang grooves!

At about that time, I also noticed something peculiar. There must have been twenty to thirty or so cars pulled over on the side of the road. Again, I thought it might be a caravan of friends or a funeral or something. (It was something alright!) I also noticed the people out of their cars and checking their tires. None of this made sense to me and again, I was too busy trying to stay on the road.

About a week previous to that day, my Pioneer radio and tape deck had been stolen from my car. So I did not have a single solitary clue as to what was happening. I finally found myself on un-grooved pavement and my car was fine after that. It only confirmed my suspicions that it was due to the grooved portion of the highway. I continued on my drive returning to my apartment in San Francisco. I was busy reading the road signs for my exits and one of them said that ahead one mile would be the last exit to depart for the Golden Gate Bridge entry into San Francisco. So I had to make a decision as to which approach I was going to take. Either the Bay Bridge between Oakland and SF or the Golden Gate Bridge. I thought, you know, it's been awhile since I have taken the scenic route into San Francisco so...I chose to take the last exit to the Golden Gate Bridge approach. (I did not know it at the time, but there must have been an angel riding with me and again, no radio. The Bay Bridge had collapsed and there was no way across into SF from Oakland. But, I did not know it at the time.

I crossed over into Richmond, Ca on my way to the Golden Gate Bridge when I noticed heavy thick smoke above the Marina District in SF. Well, I thought, there must be a house on fire or a gas main explosion. The closer I got, my perspective of the fire became more and more evident. Whatever it was on fire was huge. Again as I got closer to SF, I noticed that it was near the Palace of Fine Arts. The only structure left from the  1915 Pacific-Panama Exposition held in San Francisco. It is one of the most beautiful structures in SF and it looked, from my vantage point that it was on fire. So...I said, again to no one in particular, I have to see it one last time before it's gone. As soon as I crossed over into San Francisco and it placed me on Lombard St. right near where the fire was. I took a left into the Marina District neighborhood.

It was then that my eyes began to slowly focus on items that seemed out of place, here and there. Bricks had fallen off of the sides of building into the street. The pavement was buckled and turned up so that I was worried that my car would become stuck on top of one of the buckled places. There was also water coming up out of the street in places. Not alot but just seeping up. Then I saw the fire. An entire block of homes were engulfed in flames and there was smoke everywhere. Fire departments were fighting the fire and blocking off the streets. Tons of people were out and about. Everyone seemed to be just standing around instead of walking towards some unknown goal as is usually the case. I rolled down my window and I asked a lady (again, no radio)..."What happend?" That was obviously the wrong question because she looked at me as if I was crazy and told me there had been an earthquake and to get the hell out of there. Well. she obviously didn't know I lived there but that was beside the point.

It was then that all of the things I had encountered on my drive came together. I turned the car around and began my journey to my apartment. I lived on Divisidero St. which was not that far from the Marina district but again, I did not comprehend what getting there would entail. All traffic lights and electricity were down throughout the entire city. It took me two hours to go less than two miles. At every traffic light there were ordinary people out directing traffic. It really was quite amazing. When I arrived home, I parked and went inside the apartment building. It was then that I had to feel my way to my apartment. There were no lights in the hallways. By that time, the sun had set. I arrived at my apartment and found everything had been thrown to the other side of the apartment. However, my heavy framed artwork was still on the walls and my china was still in the built-in glass fronted hutch.

Tremors or aftershocks continued to rock The City and my apartment. Thank goodness the phones still worked. There were no cellphones at that time that were in wide use. I called a friend and asked if I could come over there. I made my way up Haight St with a flashlight and kept coming up on groups of people congregating outside with portable TV's listening to the play by play of current damages that had occurred throughout the Bay Area. That was when I found out that the Bay Bridge had collapsed. Had I taken that bridge. I would not be where I was. I would have been stranded on the other side of the bay. Many people just left their cars and ran off the bridge since no one knew if it would continue to be safe. I finally made my way to my friend's house. I spent the night there.

At the time I worked at Macy's. I was supposed to be off that day but my supervisor called and left a voice mail to report to Macy's at once to prevent looting. Uhm...I can tell you that that did not happen. There was no way I was going down to Macy's for seven dollars an hour and confront looters and no lights or electricity. Nope. It didn't happen.

Two days later I reported to work and the building that houses Macy's Department Store.  It's actually three different buildings side by side and remodeled to look like one building. Customers don't see that. It's only when you are an employee behind the walls in store rooms and offices that you understand that. The three buildings had rocked side to side and created a one to two inch opening in the floor so that anyone standing there would see the floor below. That was soon repaired in order not to frighten the customers. Please! People are not stupid. I guess though the management was counting on the employees not scaring that easily. You could tell who came first. The building was riddled with back stairwells and hallways. The walls enclosing the stairwells had collapsed and fallen down onto the stockroom floors leaving the stairs open to the stockrooms.

It's not comforting working in a concrete building while aftershocks continued to shake. Everytime I would feel the ground shake I would panic and just freeze and hope that it wouldn't continue. One of my coworkers resigned and moved the very next day. She was on the 7th floor surrounded by concrete columns when it happened.

That was a day I won't forget.


1 comment:

MsBelinda said... a way it is good you did not have a radio or you might have panicked.

You paint a vivid portrait of your ordeal and yes it is obviously a day you will never forget.

I have been in an earthquake once but I did not feel it. My mother on the other hand was going nuts thinking I had ran off in a panic and was frantically searching for me.