News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by

Earthquake readiness varies widely at 'Epicenter U'

A university dormitory damaged by the earthquake.
A university dormitory damaged by the earthquake.
Cal State Northridge

Listen to story

Download this story 0MB

As one of the first faculty members to arrive to at California State University, Northridge after the earthquake struck, Cynthia Rawitch saw images that became seared into memory. Firefighters trying to control a blaze in the science lab. The insides of buildings shaken until bookcases fell over, chairs tumbled.

The most unforgettable sight for Rawitch, then a journalism professor, was the concrete parking structure that had collapsed onto itself.

”Literally the steel girders were bent double," Rawitch said.

Up until that time, no other school had sustained as much damage from a natural disaster - more than $400 million. Some on campus remember its nickname after the quake - "Epicenter U." - the same name as a documentary about the event. But go onto campus these days, where many employees who lived through the quake still work, and you'll find short memories and admittedly cavalier attitudes.

KPCC's Josie Huang reports