Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Tue, Oct 17 2006

How big was it? Bigger than that

It's just a little thing, but Infoplease's labeling of the 1989 earthquake as a San Franciso event is a bit too SF-centric. The quake was actually centered in Nisene Marks State Park and did damage in many areas other than San Francisco. It's true that most people watching the aftermath on the news that evening saw reporters standing in front of collapsed, burning buildings in the San Francisco Marina district or beneath the Cypress freeway section that gave way and led to frantic rescue efforts. But downtown Santa Cruz, Watsonville, Moss Landing and other towns also suffered major losses. Many of the structures that failed were "unreinforced masonry", a term that was to haunt our local daily news for months afterward. Many of the big-city structures that failed were built on badly chosen land that simply liquified during moderate-to-severe shaking. If any large city wants to brag that the earthquake was theirs, let them—as long as they also admit that their bad building practices contributed greatly to their city's famed damage and death totals.

No matter who gets to claim the quake as it's own, a lot of lessons were learned by all when it came to rebuilding. We didn't have a large number of brick structures even before October 17. But those of you who visit from other areas of the country, where brick buildings are extremely popular, will definitely notice an extreme lack of bricks here, except those used in very low facades. Those red brick structures with tall columns may look magnificent as one drives past them in other parts of the U.S. Some reach 2 or more stories and dot the landscape like jewels in parts of the Midwest, South and Northeast. Many brick buildings line downtown areas across our country and hold historical records and memories that seem to add a strength to their magnificence. But trying to ride out a strong earthquake in or near one of those buildings will make a person think twice about what strong or magnificent construction really is.

posted at: 07:21 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

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