Saturday, October 17, 2009

20th Anniversary of The Big One

Today is the 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. It is a significant quake for two reasons: first, it was the day my daughter was born (Happy Birthday, Lainie!), and second it was during the World Series so there was gobs of national sports media coverage.

As tragic an event as it was, in the list of deadly United States earthquakes its death toll ranks only 6th for the 20th century. and worldwide there have been 8 deadlier quakes just since 1990. At 6.9 it was a serious earthquake, but not a whole lot stronger than the 6.8 Nisqually quake here in Seattle in 2001, though the Loma Prieta quake caused significantly more damage.

For San Franciscans this is a reason to party. The mayor's office has organized a weeks worth of events under the tagline The Big Rumble, events including:
  • Disaster Preparedness Information and Resources
  • Children's Activities
  • Giveaways
  • Entertainment
There is even a 30 page Block Party Host Toolkit for those who want to host their own shindig.

There is lots of great footage of quake coverage available on You Tube. This is nifty playlist compiling a lot of the coverage; my favorites are the ones closest to the time the quake occurred because they show the uncertainty of the whole situation at the time (and the occasional aftershock). Al Michaels saying "I'll tell you what, we're having an earth..." and then losing power is pretty dramatic.

Michaels had worked in the Bay Area before as a broadcaster for the San Francisco Giants (he and Lon Simmons were the best broadcast team ever), and this was not his first quake, but several of the sportscasters were from out of the area and it was their first time. I maintain to this day that Tim McCarver was a fine broadcaster before the quake, but since then...well, I leave you to make your own judgement. Here is video from one of the earthquake virgins.

But my favorite coverage was by Entertainment Tonight the next night, possibly because John Tesh did not utter the phrase "Belarusian Swan", not even once.

New York Times
The Big Rumble
Bay Area Earthquake Alliance
USGS (photo)

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