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Kirsten Anderberg/Northridge Earthquake 1/17/1994

The Northridge Earthquake:
January 17, 1994/ 4:31 AM
Shock Levels: 1.8 G's
6.7 - 6.8 on Richter Scale

Watch for Kirsten's new book about earthquakes due out in Feb. 2012. You can read more about her experiences during the Northridge quake in this upcoming book.

On January 17, 1994, I lived at 9907 White Oak Avenue, in Northridge, CA., with my 9 year old son, Gibralter. We moved there in August 1993, from Seattle, WA., for me to begin law school. (We moved to Seattle after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake put Santa Cruz, CA., where we lived, in chaos.) Since we had been in the Loma Prieta quake, we understood some things about quakes, such as the probability of aftershocks. But on Jan. 17, 1994, at approximately 4 AM, we were rocked out of our sleep by an earthquake with amazing power. The Northridge quake was significantly stronger than the 7.1 quake we experienced in Santa Cruz in 1989.

(Photo: K.Anderberg 1994)
My apt. building was "red tagged" at 7:40 PM on Jan. 19, 1994, 2 days after the quake

"Despite all the terror, the deaths and damage, the quake never created a single rupture in the surface of the Earth. But it did heave the ground so badly that the densely populated valley floor bulged upward and the San Gabriel and Santa Monica Mountains on either side inched closer together." - 1/18/1994, Seattle Post-Intelligencer describing the Northridge quake to NW readers

This letter was sent to me after I asked the landlord how we get our belongings out of their damaged building and also I sent praise for the handyman who was of great help to us all that night. The landlord basically askews all responsibility, blaming all liability for lost possessions on God. Remember that the Northridge Oaks Apts were built after the 1971 building code revisions due to the destruction of the Sylmar Earthquake in the same region. It is not clear whether the people who constructed the Northridge Oaks Apts actually followed those codes. Problems like this arose all over Los Angeles, as tenants asked how they retrieve their things from dangerous buildings, and landlords blamed the tenants' losses on God, and contractors who made the buildings, while the contractors blamed the city inspectors for passing their half-assed work, etc...lots of fingers pointed but in the end, the renters lost all of their things inside red tagged buildings and that was the end of it.

Kirsten Anderberg. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint/publish, please contact Kirsten at

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