The Mayfield Times

Clare Hawkinson

The Terrifying Northridge Earthquake

“Blue sparks arcing from the powerlines lit up our shaking bedroom.” (Tim Hawkinson) On January 17, 1994, my father, Tim Hawkinson experienced the petrifying Northridge Earthquake. This earthquake (as you may have observed), took place in Northridge, California and had a magnitude of 6.7. This was a fairly large earthquake, resulting in $13-14 billion in damages and affecting several freeways for an extended period of time. Tragically, 57 people were killed and more than 5,000 injured, but thankfully my parents stayed safe, and will forever be thankful for that.


At 4:30 am, the time the earthquake hit, my parents were asleep in their studio in Downtown L.A. The studio was built in the 1930’s out of brick, and luckily had recently been reinforced. My parents lived on the second floor, and when the earthquake struck, they could feel the whole room moving, and held onto each other for dear life. According to my dad, it was a terrifying experience and they both thought they wouldn’t make it out alive. The power went out, and my parents were forced to use flashlights. The Northridge Earthquake lasted for 10-20 seconds, which might not sound like long, but under these circumstances, probably seemed like forever. After everything had calmed down, my parents said a prayer of thanks.


Five other people lived in the same building as my parents and, after the building stopped shaking, people started heading downstairs. My parents went down as well to check in with everyone and make sure no one was injured. Breakables such as dishes flew out of my parent’s cupboards, but luckily drawers underneath the cupboards opened and caught most of the china. A brick came loose in my parent’s neighbor’s, John Miller’s, apartment and missed his head by an inch, which was alarming, but everything turned out to be all right. As far as damage, thankfully, the building took none. Like I stated earlier, there were several freeways that took much more damage than than the building my parents lived in. A section of the 10 freeway collapsed, as did an overpass on a different freeway, which made it unusable for half a year.


Tim Hawkinson provided some tips he recommends for how best to prepare for an earthquake. You should always make sure to have water stored, and flashlights ready for if the power goes out. In case you are out and about when the earthquake hits, it’s a good idea to keep a comfortable pair of walking shoes in the trunk of your car. Finally, your family should agree on an out of state phone number to call after the earthquake is over to check in with, as you might not be able to call anyone in the area.