Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Sylmar: 50 Years Ago

With me being from California, I've experienced several earthquakes.  Today, February 9, 2021, is the 50th anniversary of the Sylmar earthquake (also known as the San Fernando earthquake), which struck the Los Angeles metropolitan area early in the morning in 1971.  My family was living in Pomona at the time, about 50 miles to the southeast, and I remember that we felt it.  I don't recall any damage to our house, but hey, we did move to Australia less than two months later.  That had been in the works for a while, though, so really couldn't have had anything to do with the earthquake.

I've had a vague memory for many years that my brother slept through a big earthquake while we were living in California.  I recently asked him about that because of the Sylmar anniversary.  See, I thought he had slept through a quake in La Puente, where we lived before Pomona.  I can picture my parents and me standing outside of our house, but not my brother.  I'm not sure if that was in La Puente, but it was definitely not the house in Pomona.

Unfortunately, I didn't ask either my mother or my father about that memory, and they both have since passed on.  My brother does remember our mother waking him up to see if he was okay, but he thinks it was in Pomona, which would have been the Sylmar quake in 1971.

He found a Wikipedia page about a quake in 1968, the Borrego Mountain earthquake.  Now that was about 150 miles from La Puente, a pretty good distance, but that quake was felt as far away as Las Vegas, so there's a decent chance it was felt in La Puente.  It occurred in the evening, and my memory is that we were standing outside in the dark, so that could be the picture in my head.

On the other hand, that means I don't have any visual memory of the 1971 earthquake.  Maybe it was too early in the morning, and my brain was still fuzzy from being woken up?

Wait a minute!  I just put two and two together.  If my brother was asleep when the earthquake happened, it must have been in 1971, because that was early in the morning.  He was 5 years old in 1968 and probably not taking naps in the early evening.  So I've been mentally misidentifying it all these years.  Well, feh!

My father used to tell me that he had actually seen a sidewalk roll during an earthquake, but he never said which quake it was.  Considering that the Sylmar quake occurred at 6:00 a.m. in February, I don't know if it would have been bright enough to see the sidewalk do that.  Maybe it was one of the aftershocks.

I've been wondering if my father might have photographed any damage from the earthquake, but all of my father's photos are still with my sister in San Antonio, Texas.  Maybe one of these years I'll get ot see them and find out if he documented any of the earthquakes.  He was originally from New Jersey, and he admitted to me once that the quakes kind of freaked him out.

I have been in two other big earthquakes, 1987 Whittier Narrows and 1989 Loma Prieta, which I thought was a significant number.  I met a woman at a conference once who had been in the same three as I had (I'm not counting Borrego Mountain) but also was there for 1992 Landers and 1994 Northridge.  Maybe she's bad luck to hang around?

The collapsed Newhall Pass interchange, where California Highway 14 merges into Interstate 5, after the 1971 Sylmar earthquake.  The overpass was deliberately repaired quickly, before seismic codes could be upgraded, and collapsed again in the same manner during the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments on this blog will be previewed by the author to prevent spammers and unkind visitors to the site. The blog is open to everyone, particularly those interested in family history and genealogy.