By Todd Wagner
At Intel I was a member of the Emergency Response Team, so I immediately parked the car, put on my hard hat and went back in.
Meanwhile the other employees were evacuating the building and assembling in groups in the parking lot so we could make sure everyone was out. The building was a mess with ceiling tiles all over the floor, alongside notebooks and a few computer monitors. In one office a vent fan had fallen out of the ceiling. Fortunately, there were no injuries, and I spent the next hour escorting people back into the building to get their purses, car keys, etc, so they could leave.
I had it easy! Other members of the Emergency Response Team had the job of going into the lab, filled with dangerous liquids and gasses, to check for spills and leaks. They had to wear special plastic suits and and carry air tanks like scuba divers use. There was no electricity.
Going home was a mess, since all of the signal lights were out. On the freeway one overpass I normally use had sunk about 6 inches! My house was even worse. No electricity (meaning no lights or vacuum cleaner). About a foot of water had sloshed out of my aquarium, two TV sets had fallen to the floor, and one bookcase had toppled over sending a stereo speaker into the wall (leaving a triangular hole where the corner of the speaker hit).
All of this was minor compared to the kitchen. Most of the cabinets had opened and everything fell to the floor. Broken plates, glasses, ketchup, mustard, spices, wine, salad dressing, flour, etc, formed a couple of inches of sludge on the floor. It was so thick I couldn't sweep it up or mop it up, and the broken glass made it impossible to pick up by hand. I cleaned the kitchen with a shovel!
The good news was that my house, which was built by a guy who used to work for the Geological Survey and knew a lot about earthquakes, suffered no structural damage. For the next two days, still without electricity, we read by candlelight and listened to the radio. I also spent several hours cleaning the garage. I build a lot of stuff and there were hundreds of nuts and bolts all over the floor.
Also, one good friend of mine had driven to UC Berkeley the day of the quake. She had driven through the Cypress Stucture 30 minutes before it collapsed!
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