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Sat Feb 9, 2013, 10:43 AM

 

Sylmar Earthquake - February 9, 1971

I woke up at about 6:00 this morning, and realized that today is the 42nd anniversary of the San Fernando, a.k.a. Sylmar Earthquake.

The S-wave started hitting San Diego at about 6:13. I was seated at the table that now resides in my own dining room, eating breakfast early so I could catch a bus for my early choir class. I was in 8th grade.

The house swayed back and forth sickeningly for about 30 seconds. I remember a hanging lamp swinging for several minutes. Wall hangings were knocked askew throughout the house.



http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/states/events/1971_02_09.php

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Response to slackmaster (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 11:09 AM

1. I was in Las Vegas when it happened

20 stories up in the (then) MGM Grand. We thought it was centered in LV. Went downstairs and outside to watch the buildings sway. Seeing all the damage on TV, we weren't sure we would be able to get home.

(Two friends and I had gone to see Elvis.)

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Response to NV Whino (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 11:10 AM

2. Back then the REAL Elvis was still performing in Las Vegas.

 

I never got a chance to see him, but my mom did.

I remember where I was when I heard the news of his death. It's one of those vivid moments I can't forget, just like the Sylmar Earthquake except that nine days later it was still the only thing people were talking about on the radio.

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #2)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 11:30 AM

7. I wasn't an Elvis fan, and got talked into going

But, I'm ever so glad I went. It was an amazing performance… and I missed the brunt of the quake.

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Response to slackmaster (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 11:17 AM

3. I was in Detroit at the time

I didn't feel it there.

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Response to MrScorpio (Reply #3)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 11:19 AM

5. I'm glad you made it through being in Detroit OK, though in 1971 it really wasn't such a bad place.

 

That was long before the big auto industry plant shutdowns and the bulldozing of entire neighborhoods.

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #5)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 11:20 AM

6. Still surviving nt

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Response to slackmaster (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 11:18 AM

4. Hey thanks for pointing out that fact! I was watching cartoons and eating Cheerios at the time.

In OC. A shake to remember.

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Response to slackmaster (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 12:06 PM

8. I thought someone was pounding on my window and shaking my bed.

Scared.

My little brother across the room woke up when a lamp fell on his head.

We went to school that day because earthquake procedures hadn't yet been refined. Some stuff had fallen down in our classroom. The scariest was the metal fluorescent lamp shade diffusers from the ceiling. The lamps had been set swinging and the ends banged into the walls knocking the diffusers loose. These diffusers had sharp edges and might have cut a few students if the class had been occupied.

After this earthquake, the policy was changed so that kids were sent out onto the playground until the buildings were thoroughly inspected. By the time I was a teacher maybe a third of the kids wouldn't even show up at school after a large earthquake or else their parents would come and check them out of school because everyone knew it would be a long day spent outside.

I once had a boss who'd been working in a lab near the epicenter of the Sylmar quake. The lights went out, the room was shaking, things were falling down, and then the big gas cylinders broke loose, some of them spinning and hopping about the room as the gases escaped. The worst of it was she'd been a kid in Europe during World War II and witnessed bombings. She thought it was a nuclear attack. Needless to say she'd get a little intense when it came to gas cylinder safety. She had zero tolerance for anyone who seemed to be handling them incautiously.

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Response to hunter (Reply #8)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 12:15 PM

9. It's frightening to think about how weak the codes were then

 

At the time, it wasn't even required to strap water heaters to wall studs here in California. Shake shingle roofing was still the norm in spite of frequent wildfires like the Laguna Fire of 1970, another big memory for me.

There were still many private and public buildings that had not yet been retrofitted to meet the code changes that were implemented after the 1933 Long Beach earthquake. The 1922 vintage main building of my high school was one of them - Hollow tile masonry and not well reinforced with steel. But it was pretty solid and survived many quakes before it was demolished in 1976..

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Response to hunter (Reply #8)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 04:44 PM

11. I shared a room with my sister in L.A. County and we slept in a bunkbed, me on top.

My Mom used to come in every morning and wake us up by shaking the end of the bed. I sat up expecting to see her but she wasn't there. About ten seconds after the shaking started she came hopping into the room with her pants around her ankles because she was sitting on the toilet when it struck!

We still laugh about that to this day.

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Response to slackmaster (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 12:42 PM

10. Oh man. I remember like it was yesterday.

That and the Northridge one. :shudder:

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