Shaking, explosions, rumbling: Listeners remember the Northridge quake

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Northridge Earthquake, CA, January 17, 1994 — An aerial view of destruction caused by the 6.7 magnitude earthquake. Damage costs were estimated at $25 billion. FEMA News Photo

On January 17, 1994, Southern California shook. If you were living here, you probably remember being woken up confusedly getting out of bed and trying to find a safe zone in your home, searching for that emergency flashlight. It’s been 20 years since the Northridge earthquake,  killing 57 people and injuring thousands. More than 40,000 buildings were damaged and 20,000 people were left homeless after the 6.7 shaker.

We asked listeners to share their memories of the quake — here are some of them:

Karla Solano: I was 14 years old living in Northridge, I had a daybed which was tossed around because it was so light. I remember after the sun rose we (my parents and I) handed out oranges and tangerines from our trees to the people who didn’t have anything left. Many of whom needed water but the next best thing was fruit juice. It really taught me to be grateful for the little things in life.

Mark Garcia: I lived at the epicenter and it felt like a giant was picking up our house and slamming it back down over and over again. My father rode it out on the toilet in his RV. But he noticed something about his clock later that led to a great discovery in earthquake detection.

Jr Baisden: I remember my pops busting in my room like Mr. T on the A-Team intro to wake me up. He probably could have ran straight through my room wall that morning.

Art Isgreat: HELL YES!!! & transformers exploding lighting up a dark LA sky

Cheryl Leach: Yep. My apartment door was 3 feet from the swimming pool. The 10 freeway collapsed near Venice and La Cienega. Construction equipment pounded 24 hours a day until the repairs were done. Wow.

Shanty DeeBee: Who can ever forget that shaking? 20 years already! I remember thinking I was watching the sunrise, turned out to be an exploding gas station

Rebecca Ann Dreiling: I do! I was 9 years old. Lived in Bellflower at the time. Put a huge crack in our balcony. We hid in the bathroom for hours!

Elizabeth D. Funez: I lived near USC at the time. I remember grabbing my little brother that was 7, pulling him from his bed and under the doorway with me.

Anna Steyn: I was 7 in Santa Monica, and remember it vividly. The chimney crashed through my bedroom window, thankfully missing the bed. My mom came in to get me and the shaking was so intense, the door slammed and broke her hand. I remember the smell of vinegar and seeing shattered blue china when we got out through the kitchen. We held our bunny, wrapped in a carpet, in the back of our Volvo, while my dad went and helped the neighbors put out a fire that had started in their basement. The house was destroyed so we moved to the Palisades

Victor Campos: I remember the house rocking back and forth like it was weightless. Nothing like anything I had ever experienced in my life at the time.

Stephanie Cantu: Yess! I was 7 and It sounded like the earth was ripping apart. So scary 

Julie Hollander: I was 8 miles from the epicenter, and it sounded like a freight train was rumbling through my bedroom…

Rodney Thilliampalam: My wife and I were living in Van Nuys, sleeping on a waterbed when it hit. We woke up all disorientated from the shaking and somehow managed to get under a doorway. Our cats that we always kept indoors disappeared. We couldn’t find them after the shaking stopped. We looked in all the familiar hiding places but nothing… They came out a few hours later. We never did find out where they disappeared to. We were lucky. Other than a few cracks in the walls and the place in a shambles, we were okay. Nothing major lost.

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