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Do you remember where you were when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit? 

Good Morning,

It’s easy to mark the passage of time with the question, “Do you remember where you were when...” 

Do you remember where you were when you heard President Kennedy had been shot? Do you remember where you were when you heard John Lennon had been shot? Do you remember where you were when the state ordered Califorians to stay home at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic?

And do you remember where you were when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit? 

All but one of the aforementioned questions might precede the existence or memory of much of the Weekly’s increasingly young newsroom (three cheers for a young newsroom, tbh, because I’m tired), save for the pandemic one. As for Loma Prieta, I was in a dorm room in Evanston, Illinois, waiting for the start of game three of the World Series between the Giants and A’s, watching along with a fellow student whose father, the baseball writer for the San Diego Union Tribune, was at Candlestick Park when the ground shook, and bridges fell, and buildings burned, and people died.

This week’s cover story, by freelance journalist Cade Johnson, goes into Loma Prieta and what happened more locally in Monterey County when the quake hit at 5:04pm Oct. 17, 1989, but this isn’t a historical piece of writing. The question Johnson sought to have answered—just how prepared are we, in terms of buildings and infrastructure, when the next one hits (and it’s not a matter of if, but when)—speaks to the challenges of retrofitting buildings, of ensuring the integrity of roads and bridges. 

And like most things, those challenges come down to funding. When it comes to infrastructure, all the average person can do is show up to government meetings and speak up, and let elected officials know our safety when the next big one hits should be a priority. 

-Mary Duan, managing editor,

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(1) comment

Marilyn Galli

I remember Loma Prieta quake in 1989. I was living in Palo Alto, CA and working at a law firm when it happened. My daughter was 3 years and saw for the first time the ground moving. Some homes in my neighborhood were off the foundation because they did not prepare their home for an earthquake. I was hiding under my desk and was told to go home eventually. The World Series was going on in Oakland at the time.

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