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New Kid's View

Family lured Jerrianne and her husband to South Milwaukee in 2002 from Southern California where she worked as, first, a journalist, then, as a court information officer. She now stays busy with media-relations consulting, playing with her three grandchildren (part of the lure), writing, discovering her new environs, and hoping her garden will produce before the first fall frost.

Remembering the Northridge Earthquake 2 Decades Later

Martin Luther King Jr., Northridge earthquake, Los Angeles, Simi Valley, San Fernando Valley, USAA, "phantom 'quakes"

A number of Facebook Friends who lived in Southern California 20 years ago posted memories of the Northridge earthquake, which struck the west San Fernando Valley, east Simi Valley and northwestern parts of Los Angeles 20 years ago yesterday.  I lived in Simi Valley. Here's the memory I posted.

Martin Luther King Jr. might have saved me from being crushed under a freeway overpass during the Northridge earthquake. 4:30 a.m. is about the time I usually transitioned from the 118 Freeway East to the 5 Freeway South on weekdays, driving to a 24-hour gym so I could get a workout in before going to my office in the Los Angeles County Courthouse in downtown L.A.  Jan. 17, 1994, was a court holiday -- Martin Luther King Jr. Day -- though, so I didn't go in to L.A. that day. Instead, at 4:31 a.m., I was shaken out of my bed in Simi Valley, deafened by what sounded like a freight train rumbling through the bedroom. It was so loud my husband who had piled out of the other side of the bed and I couldn't hear each other even though we were shouting at the tops of our lungs. I grabbed onto a nearby door frame and hung on until the shaking stopped. Because the 'quake knocked out the power and furniture had been tossed around, we were disoriented as we felt our way out to the hallway, crunching on broken glass from pictures and certificates that had fallen off the walls, and calling the names of our two children who lived with us. We were all OK. Although our house sustained $60,000-plus damage, we avoided even worse disaster by a neighbor running over with a special wrench to turn off our natural-gas valve. Another neighbor didn't turn their valve off and soon after the 'quake subsided, their house caught fire and burned down. Two other neighboring houses that were too badly damaged to be saved were red-tagged for demolition. We were among those in the affected area who had earthquake insurance and we got a fair settlement from our insurance carrier, USAA.  It took several months to not only get the repairs done, but to also get my nerves back in order. The manifestation was a phenomenon called "phantom quakes," in which a person feels an earthquake when none is occurring.   I was the only person in the office where I worked who lived in an earthquake-affected area, so was the only one who for weeks after the Northridge earthquake would jump up on occasion and head to a doorway, warning the others that we were having an earthquake.

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