CBS2 Takes 20th Anniversary Look Back On The Devastating Northridge Quake

LOS ANGELES ( — If you were living in Southern California 20 years ago this week, you probably don’t need the reminder.

You might not want the reminder either. It was, and remains, one of the worst days in Southern California history.

Twenty years ago, specifically in the early morning hours of January 17, 1994, Southern California was rocked by the devastating and deadly Northridge quake.

The quake lasted only about 20 seconds, but the 6.7 quake reverberated long after. The toll? Nearly 60 dead, more than 7,000 injured and an estimated damage total estimated at upwards of $20 billion. The quake was felt as far as Las Vegas, Nevada. Officials said more than 20,000 people were left homeless. An estimated 40,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, some as far as 85 miles away from the epicenter.

In a special “Eye On Our Community” (CBS2 at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, January 12), anchors Pat Harvey and Paul Magers look back at that horrific day though the eyes of the people who lived it and witnessed it. They will talk to survivors, people who lost loved ones and many who barely escaped with their lives.

Harvey talks to former Mayor Richard Riordan who was in office a little more than six months when the quake struck. His take-charge attitude was largely credited with getting the city back on its feet quickly.

Magers talks to a special survivor — Mike Kubeisy, a photographer who ended up rescuing five people at the Northridge Meadows Apartments, including a woman he would go on to marry later in 1994. (This year, Mike and Patricia Silden will celebrate 20 years of marriage.)

Dr. Lucy Jones, who has been studying earthquakes for more than three decades and a seismologist with the US Geological Survey, also leaves viewers with a cautionary note.

“The thing we need to understand,” Dr. Jones says, “is that Northridge was really not a big earthquake. Northridge is a moderate to large earthquake. We have the potential for much larger and much more damaging quake.”

To that end, the special broadcast will also ask an important question: Are we ready for the big one?

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