College left unscathed after earthquake
Tremors only knock items from shelves
Published: Thursday, October 15, 2009
Updated: Thursday, October 15, 2009 05:10
Those on campus during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake were amazed to have made it through the rumble unharmed and that no structural damage was sustained in the tumult.
Though it left no more than some items fallen from their shelves, everyone could feel, as well as hear, the furor of the earthquake.
"Believe me, you could feel the (Applied Arts Building) roll," said Melody Hanson, senior executive assistant to the president. "It was like a ride at Marine World."
Hanson, at the time pregnant with her now 19-year-old son, said the college was lucky to have avoided any damages.
Journalism department Chairman Paul DeBolt was just down the hall in his office AA-215 when the earthquake hit. The building shook "pretty bad" for 10-15 seconds, and he felt as though he was going to fall through the floor, DeBolt said.
As soon as the shaking stopped, the power went out and there was widespread panic across campus, he said. Students and faculty tuned in to radio broadcasts for answers, only to find out that part of the Bay Bridge had collapsed, among other things.
Classes for that Tuesday night were immediately canceled. Upon inspection, things around campus were found knocked off of shelves, but that was it, DeBolt said.
Michael Hughes, editor-in-chief of The Advocate in 1989, was on the football field during the team's practice waiting to interview one of the coaches when the earthquake struck.
"I saw the bleachers do a wave with no people in them," Hughes said. "The field rippled, power poles shook; everything was visually rolling."
Though there were bits and pieces of visible earthquake damage in the area directly around the campus, the college did not prove to be an anomaly, as much of the surrounding area went unscathed as well, Hughes said.
An issue of The Advocate was published that Friday, Oct. 20, 1989, providing detailed written and photographic coverage of the disaster, where it was announced that the campus sustained no structural damages during the temblor.
In the publication, Pete Goodson, manager of business services in 1989, said the only reported damage on campus was six broken plates in the culinary arts department. Other than that, the campus suffered a power outage that lasted 27 hours with no phone service, which resulted in the cancellation of Tuesday night classes and classes all day Wednesday and Thursday.
Dave Cassani, Buildings and Grounds supervisor at the time, confirmed that there were no structural damages at all.
The epicenter of the Loma Prieta earthquake was about 70 miles away on the San Andreas Fault, an entirely different line than that of the Hayward Fault, which runs through the Contra Costa College campus.
Geologists say that every 230-235 years, an earthquake occurs somewhere along the Hayward Fault. Had the earthquake occurred along the Hayward Fault, the probability of the campus sustaining any damages would have been much greater, DeBolt said.
Current Buildings and Grounds Manager Bruce King said, "I feel very safe on the campus, despite it being on the Hayward Fault."
There are a few buildings on campus about 35-40 years old that have moved or shifted over time, but not as a direct result of the earthquake, King said. He has repaired warped door frames in the Art Building and cracks in the sheetrock in the Biological Sciences Building accordingly.
Doors and windows can warp from something as slight as a change in weather conditions and sheetrock can be plastered and painted over to make it as good as new, structurally and aesthetically, King said.
Also, he assured that the main support beams on campus are all stable and that many of the buildings have been seismically retrofitted.
Outside geologists come to CCC regularly to do seismic trenching and inspect the soil for safety. King has been in these 20-feet-deep trenches with the geologists to study the sediment, where they can determine whether or not there is an earthquake hazard.
This information is relayed to the Department of State Architecture, with the two closest locations in Sacramento and Oakland, King said. The department then advises where to build and where not to, based on the geology reports of the campus, he said.
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