Tolling Bells, Parade Mark Quake Anniversary
WATSONVILLE, Calif. (AP) _ This earthquake-battered farm town celebrated its revival Thursday, two years after a killer quake shook Northern California.
Rescue workers wearing hard hats and carrying hatchets marched with bands in a three-hour parade that made several stops to dedicate new buildings and an earthquake memorial outside City Hall. About 3,000 people turned out.
″This day is a tribute to Watsonville,″ Mayor Todd McFarren said in dedicating the 7-foot brick and tile monument that depicts city scenes before and after the quake.
The procession ended in the main plaza with tolls from the bell of St. Patrick’s Church at 5:04 p.m., the moment the quake struck two years ago, and the dedication of a rebuilt Ford’s Department Store, anchor of the shopping district since 1852.
St. Patrick’s, an 88-year-old landmark that survived the devastating 1906 quake, remained a fenced-off testament to the power of the Oct. 17, 1989 temblor that killed 63 people and caused an estimated $10 billion in damage.
In San Francisco, tolling bells rang from the Ferry Building at 5:04 p.m. ″Our city turned out to be built in the strongest bedrock of all, a sense of caring and civility,″ Mayor Art Agnos told a crowd of about 100.
San Francisco restaurants that used candles and flashlights to cope with the quake-caused power outage repeated the unorthodox lighting arrangements for the second year in a row.
Oakland hosted a ground-breaking for permanent housing for homeless families and a vigil at a church near the place where the double-deck Cypress Freeway buckled and crashed.
In Santa Cruz, officials and residents gathered around the town clock at 5:04 for a moment of silence. Santa Cruz has barely started rebuilding its destroyed downtown.
St. Patrick’s helped a tent city of up to 200 residents who were left temporarily homeless by the quake in this town of 30,000, 95 miles south of San Francisco.
St. Patrick’s soon begins a $2.5 million rebuilding project funded by donations. So far, $1.7 million has been raised.
The church’s bell tower was twisted by the quake, and the altar area was destroyed. The brick church needs to be taken apart and rebuilt, said Marsha Tanner, St. Patrick’s office manager.
About half of downtown Watsonville, a few miles from the quake’s epicenter, has been rebuilt, speeding ahead of repairs in other Northern California towns.
The 15-second earthquake, which measured 7.1 on the Richter scale, struck as the San Francisco Giants were about to play the Oakland Athletics in a World Series game in San Francisco. Of the 63 people killed, 42 died in the collapse of the Cypress Freeway and eight were killed in the Watsonville and Santa Cruz areas.
Recovery was the theme of the day as cities looked back on the earthquake.
Agnos said his city is better prepared than ever for another earthquake.
″San Francisco came through the experience of the Loma Prieta earthquake with a great spirit,″ the mayor said before a tour of a new Emergency Command Center, built because the old center was deemed inadequate in the wake of the disaster.