DAMAGED: St. Monica's Catholic Church suffered serious damage following the Northridge earthquake in 1994. (Photos courtesy Santa Monica History Museum/Outlook Collection)

The 20th anniversary of the Northridge earthquake brought back vivid memories for Santa Monicans who experienced it.

So, this week’s Q-Line question asks:

What do you remember most about the quake and why?

DAMAGED: St. Monica’s Catholic Church suffered serious damage following the Northridge earthquake in 1994. (Photos courtesy Santa Monica History Museum/Outlook Collection)

Here are your responses:

“The most important thing that affected Santa Monica after the quake was a hearing in Sacramento. The State Senate was inquiring about the difficulties landlords, whose rental buildings were red or yellow tagged, were having getting FEMA loans. The Rent Control Board had been denying landlords rent increases to repair damaged units. FEMA then denied the loans as there would not be money to pay the loans back after the repairs. The RCB administrator stated to the senators, that was fair. It was amazing to see even the democratic senators from the Bay Area shake their heads in disbelief over this. It was the beginning of how the Costa Hawkins bill started that now allows vacancy decontrol. I often wonder if the Rent Control Board had been more flexible if some renters who had to leave their damaged units would still be here now.”



“Bad enough there was an earthquake. They could at least have had it at a decent hour. The house was fine, though no power for a few days. I went to work, a sandwich place in Westwood Village. No damages there, just a couple of broken bottles. There was power there. We were so busy we ended up closing early because we pretty much ran out of everything. When you are in one of the few areas up and running, people come. It was the busiest we ever were.”


“What I remember most about the earthquake, besides being woke up and losing two TVs, one from falling down, one from the power surge, is some knuckleheads coming by and shutting the gas off to our apartment building, even though there was no gas leak. Couldn’t cook or anything like that until Friday. Luckily our apartment manager came by Wednesday and was able to turn the gas on so we could take a bath. The worst thing was after I got my TV, watching the TV and then watching the aftershock going through Burbank and then later through Santa Monica, and seeing the terrible damage on Euclid and on 17th Street and Santa Monica Boulevard. That was just so frightening. Strangest thing, my dad and his girlfriend were going on a cruise that day and were in Hollywood and didn’t feel anything. … He couldn’t believe I was complaining about a really bad earthquake.”


“What we remember most about the earthquake was how badly rigged and corrupt the public process was regarding the landlords’ requests for earthquake increases. We found out long after the fact that increases were based on landlord estimates of the cost of damages without any proof of payment to contractors required. … All of these items were approved by the Rent Control Board. When tenants went looking for building records at building and safety, the history of their buildings, including blueprints, were often strangely missing. As a result, tenants’ claims against the increases were dismissed as hearsay by Rent Control Board members. Even worse, assorted flagrant city conflicts of interest with contractors and lawyers working with landlords were suppressed. Does it sound like the way the city operates today? Well this happened from 1995 to 1997. Nothing really changes here in Santa Monica.”


“I was in Izzy’s Deli at 4:30 in the morning when the earthquake hit. All the windows blew in. I ran underneath the table. Little did I know there was a huge chandelier hanging over my head. It didn’t fall down. All the windows shattered and I ran out, got into my car and went home. When I came back about three or four hours later all the windows were boarded up and there were people in there eating breakfast like nothing happened.”


“I remember it vividly. My son was a little toddler and we had this adorable duplex on 20th Street. I spent the majority of the day cleaning the shards of glass and all the stuff that fell down in my adorable place. My son was absolutely adorable. I wore this black caftan and spent the majority of the day cleaning up.”


“My Northridge earthquake remembrance is this: While it was a truly scary event, one sort of magical thing happened. I was living with my grown daughter, who at the time was dating my now son-in-law. She was at his place the night of the earthquake. I was alone. I woke up uneasy just before the earthquake hit, apparently from a bad dream. I turned on the television to ease my mind. A few minutes later the television came hurtling across the room as the earthquake hit. When we were allowed back in the building later that morning I was greeted with an unexpected sight. The apartment, of course, was a complete mess, with broken glass and debris all over the floor. On one side of the wall there had been a desk that the computer and printer sat on. Earlier that evening, my daughter had placed a rose in a vase on the desk between the computer and the printer, both of which were across the room smashed on the floor. Sitting grandly atop the desk was the brave little rose in that slim vase and not one drop of water was spilled. I told my daughter she should marry that man — he had magical powers!”


“As a trained public information officer for the American Red Cross, I was directed to report to the Northridge apartments that had collapsed. As I drove over Laurel Canyon and into the valley, I noted some fires and several buildings with what appeared to be their sides sheared off. At the apartments, I responded to media inquiries and directed individuals that the American Red Cross was on the scene and would be directing individuals to shelters where those affected by the quake would be provided food and shelter. With several other first responders we opened up the first shelter in the city of San Fernando. A very surreal experience. Can’t say enough good things about the American Red Cross and the Disaster Relief Teams.”

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