Initial Observations of Cypress Structure Collapse, Oakland, CA 1989

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Detailed Description

Retrospective interview with USGS Geophysicist Susan Hough about the collapse of the Nimitz Freeway (known as the Cypress Structure) in Oakland, CA, during the October 17, 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake and how the first responders reacted to the event.


Date Taken:

Length: 00:01:18

Location Taken: Pasadena, CA, US

Video Credits

Susan Hough USGS Geophysicist


I was leading a team with two colleagues – great guys – we ended up at the Nimitz Freeway. And we got there the day after [the Loma Prieta earthquake]. It was an active recovery zone. They had spray painted on the side where they had found cars, where bodies had been located [and] removed. And at one point I was walking down the street on one side and I happened to look toward a staging area for the emergency responders and just happened to look a firefighter in the eye;  and the look on his face was just...unforgettable. He just looked shell-shocked. I could only imagine what he had been dealing with for the last 24 to 36 hours and was real in a way that seismology hadn’t been before.