Picking Up the Pieces
updated 10/22/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 10/22/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT
The earthquake of Oct. 17, 1989, was not the Big One that Californians have been told to expect, but it was big enough. The 15-second, 7.1 Richter nimbler left 63 dead, more than 3,000 injured and some $6 billion in damage. Harder to measure, but no less widespread, was the psychic shock suffered by all of those whose lives were touched by the quake, and by their distressing knowledge that no one and nothing—not even the ground beneath their feet—could be counted on to remain always stable.
Nonetheless, Bay Area residents have not only made it through the year but have gone briskly about the business of mending their lives, buoyed by their individual hopes and their strength as a community. They have already filed $550 million in applications to the federal Small Business Administration to rebuild homes and businesses. The city of San Francisco has expanded its fleet of fireboats, fire trucks and ambulances, and neighbors have come together to form volunteer fire corps, the better to be prepared for the next emergency. What follows is a look at some of the quake's survivors—their memories, losses and dreams. "Life goes on," says San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos. "But like any painful experience, it stays with you and you deal with it. No one has forgotten the earthquake—and no one will ever forget it."