Alan Hemsath woke up to the earth cracking underneath him. Wood beams splintered above his bed, and the window shattered into small slivers.
He ran for the doorway, but the ground kept convulsing. As the apartment’s walls crumpled, he fell face first onto his kitchen’s concrete floor. His right hand was in a fist and pinned under his chest. A metal circuit breaker box collapsed onto his other arm. He opened his eyes, saw black and whispered the Lord’s Prayer.
It was 4:31 a.m. on the third Monday of 1994, and he was trapped inside Apartment 110 of the Northridge Meadows apartment complex.
Half a mile away, the temblor tossed firefighter Mike Henry out of bed at Station 70. The two-story, brick firehouse jolted up and down and then rocked side to side. He tasted dust. Pieces of the ceiling had fallen into his boots, so he emptied them out and pulled them on.