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U.S. Geological Survey
Professional Paper 1553-C

Prepared in cooperation with the National Science Foundation

The Loma Prieta, California, Earthquake of October 17, 1989—Fire, Police, Transportation and Hazardous Materials

Edited by Craig Van Anne and Charles Scawthorn


photo of burned rubble in foreground and damaged buildings in background

The papers in this chapter discuss some of the failures and successes that resulted from the societal response by a multitude of agencies to the Loma Prieta earthquake. Some of the lessons learned were old ones relearned. Other lessons were obvious ones which had gone unnoticed. Still, knowledge gained from past earthquakes spawned planning and mitigation efforts which proved to be successful in limiting the aftermath effects of the Loma Prieta event.

At least four major areas of response are presented in this chapter: the Oakland Police Department response to the challenge of controlled access to the Cypress freeway collapse area without inhibiting relief and recovery efforts; search and rescue of the freeway collapse and the monumental crisis management problem that accompanied it; the short- and long-term impact on transbay transportation systems to move a large work force from home to business; and the handling of hazardous material releases throughout the Bay Area.

This publication consists of the following articles:

  • Introduction, by Craig Van Anne and Charles Scawthorn

  • The first day's response by the Oakland Fire Department to the earthquake - the Cypress Freeway collapse, by Reginald Garcia, Neil Honeycutt, and Craig Van Anne

  • Recovery in the midst of disaster - managing access to the Cypress Freeway collapse, by Anthony J. Hare, Robert W. Nichelini, and Peter C. Sarna

  • Bay Area emergency ferry service - transportation relief after the earthquake, by Richard M. Fahey and George E. Gray

  • Hazardous materials problems due to the earthquake, by Jeanne B. Perkins and G. Edward Wyatt

  • Earthquake and hazardous materials - a state emergency management perspective focusing on the earthquake, by Paul J. Penn

Download the text of this publication as a 46-page PDF file (pp1553c.pdf; 2.1 MB)

For questions about the content of this report, contact Tom Holzer

This publication is part of the set of four multi-chapter USGS Professional Papers on the Loma Prieta, California, Earthquake of October 17, 1989:

Professional Paper 1550, Earthquake Occurrence, Coordinators: William H. Bakun and William H. Prescott

Professional Paper 1551, Strong Ground Motion and Ground Failure, Coordinator: Thomas L. Holzer

Professional Paper 1552, Performance of the Built Environment, Coordinator, Thomas L. Holzer

Professional Paper 1553, Societal Response, Coordinator: Dennis S. Mileti

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Maintained by: Michael Diggles
Created: July 15, 2006
Last modified: July 15, 2006 (mfd)