When the 1994 Northridge earthquake hit, we were asleep in our Ontario house, about seventy miles from the epicenter. Scientists had said that there would be a "Big One" (with capitals!) in the late Eighties. But we felt the jolt and the massive shaking inside our home. Outside, our pool's water gushed out all over and our dog, Max, barked incessantly until the shaking stopped. Quickly, I got out of bed and ran into the hallway, meeting my oldest son there. A ten-year-old, he seemed okay-but his younger, five-year-old brother and the baby were hanging onto me, both so scared that they were crying. I told them that everything is going to be okay...but I heard some of my votive candles falling and breaking. I wondered to myself, would this shaking ever stop? Even as things stopped, and the earthquake was over, it was apparent that our neighbors next door had felt this earthquake as well. My husband said jokingly to our children, "That was a hell of a shaker, huh?" Both my three sons and I could do nothing but nodd our heads, and hold onto each other tightly.
We turned on the T.V. news, and saw the earthquake's devastation in Northridge throughout that day. My five-year-old son kept asking questions-such a typical thing for a five-year-old-because he did not fully comprehend what had happened. Thus, as patiently as I could, I explained to him how the San Andreas fault line is located there in the San Fernando Valley. I also explained to him that our Earth is like a "system" or rather an ecosystem, which sometimes "breaks" and shifts, thus causing an earthquake. We were shocked by the news reports, and we saw the tragedy of the earthquake on the television many times in the days that followed it.
After the Northridge earthquake, in 1994, many changes occurred in our home as well as in the community. First, the school that my children attended started having "Earthquake Preparedness" drills. My two older children took large Zip-Loc bags to school with extra food, and bottled water and these were kept in the classroom as "Earthquake kits." I volunteered with P.T.A., and our unit raised money to purchase nineteen red backpacks for the teachers; the backpacks held clipboards with emergency information on them. Secondly, our home needed a box of "Earthquake supplies" -so we collected many items of non-perishable food, like peanut butter, canned meat, and fruit "roll-ups" along with bottles of water. We kept everything, even some blankets and flashlights, in the box. We even decided to buy walkie-talkie radios, just in case my children were outside the home during a big earthquake, and we practiced talking on them, making sure that our voices could be heard at the end of the street. My five-year-old son's favorite game was called "Duck and Cover" (which was the announcement used at school during an actual drill). Lastly, the Northridge earthquake helped our family by showing us how to trust each other; to "pull together" as a team, and cooperate with each other. Even though the earthquake was in Los Angeles, a county which was far from our home, its impact (literally) will never be forgotten and we always have an awareness that another 7.1 magnitude earthquake could happen again.