6.7 Earthquake Hits Northridge Area

Garrett Olmsted

Magnitude 6.7 Earthquake Hits the Northridge Area in 1994



A large Northridge earthquake knocked Scott Olmsted to the floor. Back on January 17th, 1994 at 4:31 a.m., my father was fast asleep in his own bed in Arcadia, California when the earthquake hit. His first thought was to run to a safe place. My dad said, “I ran to the doorway of my room, but on the way there, I ran into the door and hit my head.” Scott felt like “I was on a boat where I couldn’t get my balance.” The earth felt like it was jerking back and forth. The magnitude turned out to be 6.7 on the Richter scale and its epicenter was about 30 miles away from Arcadia in Northridge, California. The quake occurred on a previously unknown fault line, which was named the Northridge Blind Thrust Fault.

After the shaking stopped, my dad ran to help his mother and grandmother, who were in the master bedroom. His grandmother, who was visiting from Minnesota at the time, was still in bed because she afraid that the earth was going to swallow her up and she wanted to be in a soft bed when she landed! His mother, my Nana, had run to the doorway of her room. No one was hurt. There was no real damage to their house. However, they all found out later that 57 people died in the earthquake and 8,700 people were injured. Around the epicenter of the quake, there was a lot of damage to homes and buildings. Many people lost their homes in the city of Northridge.

There were many aftershocks after this large earthquake. The first occurred right after the initial quake and it was 6.0 in magnitude. My dad and his mother put his grandmother under the kitchen table so she would be safe during any aftershocks. The only other aftershock that my dad felt was 11 hours after the initial quake. It measured 6.0 too. In the days after the earthquake, my dad helped others who had earthquake damage. He helped his best friend’s father pick up all the books in his law office, which had fallen everywhere during the quake. He also helped at his own office, where many clients needed help cleaning up damage caused by the shaking.

My father says that to be prepared for an earthquake everyone must have lots of supplies. Everyone should have at least 3 days worth of food and water, but my dad recommends packing for 7 days. You should have an earthquake kit in your home that has clothes, blankets, food and water for your pets, flashlights, a radio and first aid supplies. He also recommends that everyone have an earthquake plan, which includes knowing where to meet family, how to communicate and emergency contacts. Homeowners should also know how to turn off the gas to their house in case of a gas leak. It is better to be prepared for an earthquake than not be ready and assume that you can rely on others to help you.

This is the wreckage from the Northridge Earthquake.