We were all experiencing a high not previously known to the Bay – celebrating the home baseball teams advancement to the Fall Classic. There was such a beautiful spirit that blanketed the Bay. Signs commemorating the Battle of the Bay were everywhere. Young and old could be found repping their colors: orange and black or green and yellow. Though divided by team, we were united in the Series. We represented the best! Our Bay Area had bested the National and American leagues. The pride was uncontainable. And in the middle of all of that, while all eyes were on us, a natural disaster attempted to steal our moment. Maybe it did for 15 seconds.
I know exactly where I was 23 years ago today. Any of us who lived in the San Francisco Bay Area does. Not one 17th day of October has passed without me pausing, reflecting and shedding a few tears about the many lives lost and changed on that day in 1989. When a clock reflects the time 5:04, I can’t help but momentarily think of the 15 seconds of that Post Meridiem minute that conjured the greatest fear I had known to date. While my family and I prepared to watch Game 3 of the Battle of the Bay World Series, the ground shook. And rumbled. And shook some more. For 15 seconds. Felt like an eternity. In only 15 seconds, nature went to battle with man-made structures. Some structures proved stronger than nature; others didn’t. At 5:05, instead of turning on the television to watch the first pitch, the screen began to reveal the first images of the devastation that struck my beloved hometown. The landlines were out of service, so we traveled down the hill to find a pay phone to call our extended family to let them know we were all okay. Yes, we fared better than most. No structural damage to our home and no injuries. We didn’t have to wait hours on end to learn the fate of any of our family members.
However, that day sticks with me like few others. San Francisco is my home. Seeing it buckle, burn and devastate its inhabitants at 10 years of age was like a betrayal. Though destruction hit both sides of the Bay, we joined forces to find survivors. With all eyes on us to see a battle between the best baseball had to offer, we demonstrated the best of how unity can help a community survive and thrive despite the obstacles the disaster put in place.
So yeah, I can’t forget. This is a piece of my puzzle.
Now . . .
Have you lived through a natural disaster? What was your experience?