Thursday, October 17, 2013

I Survived the World Series Earthquake

By Cal Orey

Pets help predict earthquakes

Today marks an unforgettable event that I will never forget...More than 20 years ago, on Monday, October 17, 1989 I experienced a frightening major earthquake. In retrospect, I received so many cues, my own body, mind, and especially signs from my sensitive companion animals, three cats and a dog.

* On August 8, after a strong foreshock hit, my sensitive Siamese-Manx, Ashley packed her bags, put in her change of address and moved outdoors to reside underneath the morning glory bushes. I knew it was odd behavior but let it go.
* In October, a week before the main quake, my yellow lab Carmella paced back and forth in the living room of my San Carlos, Calif., bungalow. She wasn't a high strung dog. It was unusual that she was restless. Being a busy journalist, I didn't dwell on her action-orients moves.
* On the morning of October 17, my orange and white food-loving cat Alex refused to eat in the morning. This food strike was very odd for my lean and healthy feline.
* My oldest cat, a gray and white Tuxedo named Gandalf behaved as though all was usual and he
was a very balanced animal.
* In the late afternoon on the hot Indian summer day, I fought an excruciating headache. I took to bed to try and escape the pain.

Then, it happened. At 5:04 PM, strong rattling of the bedrooms woke me up. Startled by the sound similar to a freight train put me in fight or flight motion. Back in the day, it was protocol to get to a strong doorway. I instinctively grabbed my dog and headed for the front door. Once I reached the dining room, the floor was buckling, windows and French doors shaking fiercely. I couldn't keep my balance and fell, cut my leg. In my mind I thought, "The world is ending"  as I watched and heard the loud noise of a shaking home.

I got up quickly and crawled to the doorway. The quake seized. I heard the words from my neighbor upstairs: "Are you okay?"  With a rapid heartbeat, shock, and frightened and answered a weak "yes."  As a native California who had endured two strong, rolling Livermore quakes while a San Jose resident; and the 6.2 Morgan Hill shaker scared me when I was living in Santa Cruz Mountains--you'd think this wasn't a big deal. But it was bigger than big. But I survived.

This earthquake, however, was different. My instincts told me that the epicenter was not San Carlos and it had to be worse elsewhere.  I soon discovered it was catastrophic. The center of destruction was in Santa Cruz Mountain but greatly affected  infrastructure downtown Santa Cruz, Watsonville, the Marina in San Francisco, East Bay and other regions. 

When I turned on the TV I was welcomed with a black screen. Nobody was outside. I put my canine on a leash and walked towards the post office--the place where my boyfriend. Car sirens were going off and I was stunned. I felt like I was in a sci-fi film. The main window of  his workplace was shattered, pieces of glass on the sidewalk.

Once back home, news reports began to roll in. The 15 seconds and aftermath for weeks of a 7.1 earthquake was widely felt throughout California, neighboring states--and the damage was significant. Hours, days, and weeks of strong aftershocks kept people on edge in the Golden State. For weeks, I refused to sleep in the bedroom where it hit. I camped out in the living room with the lights on. I was clad in clothes, a dog leash and shoes next to me on the floor. I was hardly alone. People south of Santa Cruz lived in tents and were afraid to go back inside their homes.

As a journalist, I was given several assignments to write about the event and its aftermath. Then, I reconnected with geologist Jim Berkland the man who predicted the World Series Earthquake. Four days prior, on Friday the 13th an item about his forecast was published in The Gilroy Dispatch. And then the drama began for him, the man who predicted the quake, and whom was suspended from his job because of the frenzy of press and panic that followed. "Was this the Big One?" 

An eerie story that I'll never forget is the East Bay Vivarium...a pet shop with snakes and lizards. The owner in the East Bay did not have earthquake insurance. His creepy crawlers' aquariums broke, fell onto the floor and countless creatures escaped in the dark of the night. He was faced with saving his inventory on the loose or like others, helping the people trapped in their cars on the two-level Cypress Street Viaduct of Interstate 880 in West Oakland. 

Two decades later, I became the author of The Man Who Predicts Earthquakes. And today, as I live at Lake Tahoe it brings back memories of a memorable day.  These days, not only do I have a book written on quake prediction, but a website where earthquake sensitives post their forecasts--Earthquakeepicenter ...

Meet Jim Berkland, a California geologist whose forecast of the famous October 17, 1989 World Series Quake that rumbled through the San Francisco Bay Area was right on the money. This is the first book to document a geologist's uncanny ability to foretell earthquakes around the world. This facinating read includes stories of earthquake survivors, a wealth of details about seismic activity in earthquake prone regions around the world.

No comments:

Post a Comment