Monday, November 08, 2010

Where Were You?

I was a security guard at the Humboldt Bay Power Plant at the time of the Nov. 8, 1980 quake. I was working the graveyard shift at the time and was outside on the trail between fuel storage tanks 1&2.

I happened to be facing south east and saw two bright flashes over in the Bell Hill/ Tompkins Hill direction. Then the ground started shaking, so much so that I had to steady myself on my feet. Despite that, I still wondered if it was my imagination as this was the first big earthquake I'd been awake for.

The swaying and squeaking of the lamps on top of the fuel tanks assured me that there really was an earthquake going on.

After it stopped shaking it was strangely quiet. I got on my radio and called Security. No answer. I called again. No answer, then the shift supervisor came on over the radio and said the two guards inside the security building had locked themselves out. They'd left the building when it started shaking.

It took a while for me to realize the reason it was so quiet was Units 1 and 2 had shut down, thus no power generation noise. They were designed to do that in case of an earthquake of a certain size.

I remember seeing the fire trucks and ambulances heading south on the freeway. I wondered at the time if the C.R. dorms had collapsed, or some such. Didn't find out about the bridge collapse until a little bit later.

A water line broke on the east side of Unit 2. Quite a gusher blowing there until they got it fixed. Nearly all the maintenance people ended up coming in shortly after that to deal with any needed repairs.

Oddly enough, when I got home that morning, I don't recall any damage to speak of at my little house. The aftershocks went on for 3 days.

Oh, and that first family that went off the bridge, they were friends of one of our other supervisors and had left his house a few hours before driving south to drive over the bridge.

Where were you?

2 Comments:

At 6:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was 1700 above sea level, on Fickle Hill. My first born ( 6 months old at the time ) was in the bedroom across the hall from our room. I remember getting up and walking to his crib with the rolling of the mountain ( hill ) and just about the time I picked him up and found my wife, the rolling earthquake stopped, so to speak...Tom,the guy in the TS article,the dad, was a year behind me at EHS, but I remember him having a broken leg...and in the words of the American Red Cross, get your asses, my word, prepared...

 
At 8:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was on the Humboldt Fire District #1 Fire Engine that responded to this incident. Can't believe it's already been thirty years.

 

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