6.8 Northridge Earthquake In Los Angeles. I Was In The Middle Of It.

Life can change so quickly in an instant!   

It was 4:31 am PST..Los Angeles...January 17th....I was jolted out of bed, power already out and only way out was to step on broken glass and trip over broken rubble, my son and I got into the duck cover and hold mode under the door-well! I was in the epicenter.
I remember everyones car and home alarms going off all at once, fires and explosions. We made it outside alive but I was badly injured, we were bruised up badly as this quake was a shallow thrust quake which is the worst type cuz it jerks everything up and down!!!!! We looked like we were physically beaten by an abuser, but not. The ligaments in my feet were torn from tripping and my right foot/ankle swelled up to the thickness of my neck!

The adrenaline was so high I felt little pain until about 45 min later! Anyway everyone made it out into the parking lots and the streets, none of us went back inside for days and weeks, some even months. For us we went back inside after about a week. The whole area was in rubble we had to dig our way back inside. The tropical fish and tank water was emptied and thrown about 30 feet across the room!
The whole thing was surreal, sounds of breaking glass, alarms helicopters, sirens, smell of smoke, screaming people..killed about 64 that morning would have been worse if it was just a bit later!!

CNN News crews were stationed not far off for weeks to come and the national guard was summoned in. We suffered without power for weeks couldn't drink the water.

Though we had some earthquake insurance we never fully recovered everything, and it left me with a case of PTSD that I fled the state and moved out of the earthquake zone to Az instead. Still miss L.A but don't need that drama.

SpiceZ SpiceZ
56-60, F
11 Responses Jul 22, 2012

Hi SpiceZ,
I was in Nepal during both the big earthquake hits. After having seen all the disasters and lives lost, It was hard for me to come back to US and sync back in. A completely different world, people don't know how to relate to my experience,coz there was never a need or a way for them to know stories from those parts of the world! Natural disasters are scary, something we can never be completely prepared for. We all share same kind of feelings at all parts of the world and so, to form a common ground, I started a website www.uloopback.com so we can gather these experience, share stories across the globe and heal. Moreover, all the proceeds from the website goes to the disaster victims. Please share your experience in our website, submit your story. We need to share these stories to be able to heal faster. Please visit www.uloopback.com

I think you are referring to the one in 1971 where the freeways collapsed. I survived it too. I will never forget. Luckily I wasn't as close to the major damage are as you were.

but, CNN didn't show up. They didn't start up until 1980.

Nope...I'm referring to the Northridge quake in 1994 CNN was at the Canoga Park High School field on the corner of Van Owen and Topanga Canyon Bvld.

Oh, I see. Sorry then.

SpiceZ: Yeah, I remember that... I lived about 60 miles away doing work for Gen Contractor at the time and accompanied a finishing crew out to The Gas co. to do some inspection on a job about a month or so after the event. We were all shocked at the extent of damage but what really drove home the severity of that quake was talking to some of the residents that went through it like you and your Son did. They ALL stated they thought they were gonna die. One woman in particular showing sever signs of PTSD. Even a month later her recolection caused her to start crying.

Sometime after that (a few years I think) there were a series of quakes in Big Bear and it was the same thing all over again. People were moving away in droves, selling homes for under mrkt value but didn't give a damn. People sleeping outside of homes without structural damage but too frightened to re enter. After shocks went on for weeks...

Yup....though there have not been anything near as bad since this quake I wrote about, and yes I was there for those ones in big bear...bad ...but not in comparison to Northridge.

Thanks for your comment, ...bet that was one day at work you'll never forget!!!

Yes Spice, It definitely left an impression alright. I need to get outta So. Cal. Tried in 06 and 07 but the recession put a screaching hault to those plans. Our house had an incredable equity built up (you know, inflated real markt) I mean if we could only have sold before market went south.. we'd a been on easy street... Dang!( I still hate Bush's guts)... ha ha.
Anyway..Your story took me back...really well written.

Ah..I hate bush too.....politics is important to me ;)
Thanks for the reply again I left California with a 10,000 plus loss....if you want to get out you still can.....but at a loss is the problem
Stay safe while your still stuck there.

Oh yeah! My sister was going to CSUN at the time too....she said one of her classes was held under a tree, a tree! That's how damaged they were. When I transferred to CSUN a couple of years later they were still rebuilding.

Still rebuilding whoa!!!! over 19 years wow, I am impressed. Anyway yes, they had classes on the grass, trees and out in trailers for the longest time over at CSUN just like you sister says!!!!

I'd say the worst about the Northridge Quake were the aftershocks. They would happen at night, in sets of five. I felt as if I had no control back then.
Also, traffic was crazy - I was going to College of the Canyons out in Santa Clarita at the time and commuters used a detour because the freeways were being rebuilt. I remember one night coming back late from class and traffic was held up due to workers moving large cement. I had a straight-up panick attack - the first one -- where I felt as if the car was going to topple over. I needed to get out there. Finally, it subsided.

I hear you....those panic attacks we had were from the trauma :) Seemed everyone else was having those too, not just you.

I had just finished some computer classes few weeks before at CSUN, California State University at North-ridge!!!!
Could you imagine my shock at seeing the science building my computer science classes were in on fire?! whew

Powerful story....I am so sorry about the PTSD,

I lived in Granada Hills at the time - the quake hit day before my birthday. I remember it being one of the most violent quakes I felt as of yet, Balboa had been transformed into a river a fire main burned seven houses around the corner from us. My sister was so freaked out by the quake she moved to Tennessee for six months. Didn't have PTSD, but I did define everything as, "before the quake," "after the quake." I give you kudos for sharing our story. PTSD is no laughing matter, and no one realizes how a disaster like this could have an affect on someone.

Thanks, yes I also have a friend who flew back to NY for 6 months, and I as a result moved to arizona and I was very used to quakes after living in LA for a long time and being through many.

My sons high school was on (trying to remember the street names it's been so long ago now) on Vanowen and Topanga, just northward next too the Topanga mall where CNN and tent city were parked for a couple months too.
Everyone seemed to loose their chimneys off their homes too, that was weird, did your bite the dust too?
Names here...---(trying to remember) there was a hospital (or medical center) on Victory and Tarzana ave on fire..that was close to me and Balboa, was a real mess just as you said!!!!!!
I remember everyone being pissed off a few days later when we found out Clinton was to chicken to take a full tour of the area around us....but in hindsight it just was not safe, and he being the president, should not have risked his life going through our neighborhoods I guess.
I do miss it there, I still have dreams about it, and often though they are getting less scary over time.
CSUN was unbelievable, I had just finished classes there the month before!!!! and I was just at the Northridge mall the evening before at around 430-5 pm buying shoes!!!!!!! 12 hour earlier quake would have killed most of us there!!!!!

Anyway best of luck to you back there :)

I never been in a big earthquake. I have felt a few Tremors, that gave me the feeling of Ghost.
I have been on ships and boats. And felt a lot of rocking and rolling. As being in the Navy in 1973 to 1975.

This was a violent up and down jolting, we were all bruised like punching bags, the noise was louder than thunder,..it was extremely violent! Stuff was ejected across the room...Definitely not tremors :)
The quakes fault was a shallow thrust which are up and down violent motions where as the San Adreas fault only has slip slide...not as violent.

Hi...I was in the 1971 San Fernando earthquake 6.6/60 sec. I was 13 at the time and living in Santa Monica. We had moved form Northridge the year before. PSTD...YES! I plan on adding my story to the Group. Thank you for your words. I do like your avatar; ready to go anywhere to get away from the ground! :)

Been there too, yes...though everyone said Northridge was tons worse than 1971

Yes...This one was way worse due to the type of fault it was on (shallow thrust) it was not rocking or slip/slide like most other quakes...1971 was kids play compared to this one...though it was really bad too!
Looking forward to your story :)

Forthetimebeing makes a very good observation regarding your avatar photo... Any truth to her theory SpiceZ?

oceanhiker....yes...here is the story of my avatar and related stuff I did get away, moved out to the arizona desert, no earthquaker here :)...http://www.experienceproject.com/stories/Want-To-Know-The-Story-Behind-Your-Username/2709061

oops I made a typo and added an 'r' to the end of the word earthquake instead of an 's' that belongs there.

my typing sucks, I wish they'd...ep would let us edit comments without deleting the whole thing

2 More Responses

Wow, great descriptive story.

I remember watching that one on TV. That's where that apartment building 3rd floor collapsed onto the 2nd floor and it became a 2 story building, so all those on the 2nd floor perished. And a double decker bridge collapsed as well.

My first husband and I owned a civil and structural firm, and we were asked by the Structural Engineers Society to go to Northridge and inspect houses and commercial building to make sure that they were safe to re-enter. I wonder if we met you! lol

Who knows, we could have met

I was in Long Beach at the time, that was a bad one for sure. I went thru that area of the valley not long ago, time heals all wounds