Sunday, October 25, 2009

1989 Earthquake Aftermath

In a previous post, I wrote about my experience the day the earthquake occurred. The days, weeks and months that followed were ones of confusion and waiting. Even controversy. It turned out that there were far fewer deaths in the freeway collapse than previously feared, as most people left work early to watch the World Series! My good friend Mike was one such non-casualty. At the time of the quake, he would have been on that freeway on his way home, but he was already at the game.

The Bay Bridge was out of commission for months as a replacement section had to be constructed. This was a major bridge with six figure vehicle traffic each day. A new freeway in Oakland took years to be built. The World Series was delayed (ten days eventually) as there was structural damage to Candlestick Park. Expansion joints were located below seating section stairways. The concrete steps crumbled, and fans could see the parking lot through the new holes. There was talk of relocating the Series to Los Angeles. Over the dead bodies of 62,000 Giants fans would their first Series in 27 years be played at Dodger Stadium! Some people felt that a sporting event was so insignificant in light of such a disaster that it should be cancelled altogether. Cooler heads prevailed as the structural damage was fixed, and game 3 was played at the 'Stick after all. It turned out to be what the Bay Area needed as therapy.

The quake stirred fans, as they showed up for the postponed game 3 wearing hard hats with their team logo. The A's swept the Giants, and decided that in light of the catastrophe, they would celebrate their victory in the locker room without alcoholic beverages.

Another friend of mine was driving on the Bridge at the time of the quake and collapse. He had just passed the section that would collapse. Then when he reached the joint between the bridge and terra firma, the buckled pavement scraped the underside of his car. Not knowing what happened, he pulled off and checked his car out. He looked back up the bridge, and there was no traffic whatsoever in an eerie sight.

Having two teams close by has always been a blessing for me. Getting to drive to every game is something few fans have ever claimed. The '89 quake and Series are things I will never forget.

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