The Northridge Earthquake

Marisol Prietto

The Northridge Earthquake

On January 17, 1994, at 4:30 AM, the Northridge earthquake struck around the greater Los Angeles area. I interviewed Mario Prietto, my father, who was 23 at the time. Mario tells me now that he is very fortunate and lucky to have gone through the earthquake unscathed, and that he was able to help his friends.

My father remembers he was sleeping in his house that he shared with his friend, Beck, who later won two Grammys for his music. My dad’s friend, Jordy, was sleeping over, in Mario’s room. When I asked him how the earthquake felt, he said it felt like someone was lifting the bed and shaking it around, “like the whole house was being pushed around, up and down, and back and forth,” he explained. His friend Jordy had never been in an earthquake before, he was from New York, so he was very confused about what was happening. When the earthquake started, Beck ran into the room, and they all sat on the bed, “We all looked skinny and pale and scared, sitting there in our pajamas, half-dressed,” he told me. Mario called his parents, to tell them he was fine, and ask how they were. His parents were farther from the epicenter so they only felt a tremor, and were okay.

After things had calmed down, they drove over to Mario’s new friend Jean’s house in East Hollywood, because she had called and was scared because her apartment was damaged. On the way to Jean’s house, they passed by many smashed cars, stopped traffic lights, crazy traffic and car alarms were going off. the area jean lived was closer to the epicenter so she had felt the earthquake more, and her apartment was damaged. To calm their nerves, and satisfy their needs of hunger, they went to a local restaurant for breakfast. There was a TV at the restaurant, and they saw a lot of news about the earthquake, and they learned it had been a 6.7 magnitude earthquake, and they heard how many people were still being rescued, and that there were many damages to buildings all over the greater Los Angeles area.

Jean later called FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to apply for disaster relief money while exaggerating her situation a lot. “I think other people needed that money more and that she was being dishonest,”said Mario. I think that was not fair that she got money when there were many houses that had been completely destroyed. For example, FEMA spent $13-$40 billion on property damage alone. Also, 57 people passed away and 5,000 people were injured.

A good way to be prepared for an earthquake is to turn off the gas so that if the building collapses or a spark ignites the gas there could be a serious disaster. The person I interviewed turned off the gas immediately he knew it was something you were supposed to do but didn't know why until he saw all the burning building on the news. It is also a good idea to have your friends’ and family’s phone numbers written down in case you ever have to call them during an emergency.
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