LA Times

By: Maria Dilbeck

Disastrous Northridge earthquake 1994

LA Times

By: Maria Dilbeck 6A


At 4:30 a.m. on January 17,1994, Angelinos were shocked awake by a magnitude 6.7 earthquake. With an epicenter in the the heavily populated San Fernando Valley, 57 people lost their lives. The quake caused $20 billion in damage, collapsing many buildings and freeway overpasses.


Recalling the Northridge earthquake, as it’s come to be known, Teresa Dilbeck, mother of this author, stated, “Mark (father of Maria Dilbeck) and I were sound asleep. I awoke to shaking, and it seemed to go on and on. I tried to wake Mark and got up to stand in our bedroom doorway. I continued to try to wake Mark, who somehow slept through most of the shaking. It lasted a long time, long enough to get worried.”


Coming from Iowa only four years prior, Teresa Dilbeck explained that she wasn’t quite sure what to expect as the the earthquake began. “But, I did get out of bed and go to the doorway, which is what I’d understood best to do, at least at that time. I think recommendations for personal safety have changed a bit.” After the earthquake, the biggest inconvenience for Teresa Dilbeck and many others was the closure of the 10 freeway. Because she was driving to Century City from Pasadena at that time for work, the freeway closure added to an already long commute. In terms of any damage, Teresa Dilbeck stated, “We were uninjured but had many new cracks in walls and along the chimney. Books came off shelves and a few glasses may have been broken. Compared to what others suffered we were lucky!”


After many years living in Southern California, Mr. and Mrs. Dilbeck have several recommendations for preparing for future earthquakes. First, nothing heavy should be placed on the walls above or around beds that could fall on those who may be asleep when an earthquake hits, including large pieces of furniture that could be overturned. Second, emergency supplies should ready. Third, extra canned food and water should be stored. Lastly, extra candles and extra batteries for flashlights are a smart idea.

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