Napa Earthquake Brings Back Memories of Coalinga's 1983 Quake

Published 08/25 2014 06:12PM

Updated 08/25 2014 06:22PM

Sunday's powerful 6.0 magnitude earthquake in Napa is bringing back memories for some Central Valley residents. 

More than 30 years ago, a powerful 6.4 magnitude earthquake shook the Fresno County city of Coalinga. 

It was the largest earthquake in recent history in the Central Valley.

Coalinga is a much different city now than it was 31 years ago when the powerful earthquake rocked it to its core. 

The memories of the devastation are alive inside the R.C. Baker Memorial Museum, where fireman Timothy Jordan is the board chairman.

"Basically total chaos. The town was just picked up and dumped, and what was left was like a war zone," Jordan says. 

The bulk of the damage happened downtown. The quake crumbled most of the brick buildings. 

Flipping through the pages that chronicle the events of May 2, 1983, JoAnn Clark remembers the destruction that changed the face of the town. 

"It was just a very unfortunate time for everybody,"Clark says. 

She was just outside of town when she felt the ground violently shake.

Driving in, she saw the devastation that left about a third of the homes uninhabitable. 

"I saw some of the wooden houses that are on wooden frames. They were sitting on the ground," Clark says. 

The aftershocks in the following weeks and months continued to rattle the city, making it a while before Coalinga could get back on stable ground. 

"There's really not a lot you can do when Mother Nature takes a hit on ya'," Clark says. 

Residents say they feel for those who just experienced Napa's major quake and say the lesson is to always be prepared.

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