Earthquake: It Shakes Up The Past... - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

From Anchor Araksya Karapetyan

Earthquake: It Shakes Up The Past...

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Many of you may have had a rude awakening this morning… nothing like an earthquake to jolt you out of bed? We were on the air joking around, laughing with some fun St. Patty's Day music in the background when all of the sudden we felt a big shake- two of them actually.

It only lasted about ten seconds- but it was loud and shook hard. Watch THIS clip!

The quake was downgraded from a 4.7 to a 4.4 by the U.S. Geological Survey. It was centered near the intersection of Mulholland Drive and the 405 Freeway. It was a shallow quake- it struck at 6:25 a.m. at a depth of 5.3 miles. Social media blew up as you can imagine- many people were tweeting about it – what they felt, if anything broke, how they reacted… so on.

While this was clearly not a big deal, it did shake us up a bit.

Every time we get a shaker here in Southern California I quickly have a flashback to my childhood. I was 6-years old in 1988 when a devastating earthquake hit my hometown in Gyumri, Armenia. It was 11:41 a.m.  December 7, 1988. I was in kindergarten. I had just finished painting a blue bird and my teacher was walking over to hang up my painting, when all of the sudden the building completely tipped over to one side. We all fell, along with the furniture to one end of the room and then bounced to the other side. My teacher told us all of get out… so we scrambled… we ran down the hall and down the stairs.

The building was shaking … the ground was rolling. I could feel each roll, it was like a wave under my feet, as I struggled to keep my balance. There was dust everywhere. The brick building was fighting hard against the forces of nature not to collapse. Once we were in the playground we stopped and looked around. There was debris everywhere and all the kids, including myself started to cry. One by one, parents frantically came to pick up their kids. I was one of the last to get picked up. My mom describes seeing me, completely covered in dust with a stream of my tear marks.

We cramped into the car and started driving around town, trying to collect our family members. There was barely any room in the car. Everyone was crying. People were begging for us to take the injured to the hospital. There were bloody bodies everywhere.

The cities of Spitak, Leninakan, and Kirovakan (Vanadzor) were greatly affected. It's estimated 25,000-50,000 people died and anywhere from 31,000- 130,000 others were hurt. There has always been a debate about the exact numbers if deaths and injuries. This many years later, there are many ruins throughout the city. It is not uncommon to walk down the street and come across a building half standing- with a curtain blowing in the wind and a crooked painting on a wall. It is haunting… Not to mention there are many people still living in the temporary housing type trailers that were provided as humanitarian aid from other countries. Those aren't meant to be occupied for twenty something years. One hundred and thirteen countries sent substantial amounts of humanitarian aid to Armenia – rescue equipment, search teams, and medical supplies.

In fact despite the tensions of the Cold War, Mikhail Gorbachev formally asked the United States for humanitarian help-  this was the first time the Soviet Union made such a request since World War II. Many people lost their lives that day.

There were all kinds of stories though… for instance my unborn sister saved my mom's life that day. My mom was pregnant with my sister at the time- that morning she had terrible morning sickness and didn't go to work. She was a professor at the university in Gyumri. That building collapsed. My sister was born six months later. We named her after my aunt who died in that quake. I have these flashbacks from time to time… memories that come and go. One thing that remains is the reality of what happened- my hometown has never been the same again.

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