SF marks anniversary of 1906 quake

April 18, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
San Francisco remembered the devastating 1906 earthquake and fire. Lotta's Fountain is where survivors gathered 102 years ago. Today, it was the scene of a subdued remembrance with one of the few living survivor present.

There's only one survivor left from the 1906 earthquake who manages to make the celebration at Lotta's Fountain each year. And the crowd seems to keep getting smaller. But those who do show up take this part of the city's history very seriously.

"I'm a fourth generation native San Franciscan - who has been doing this for many, many years," said Ed Byberg, native San Franciscan.

Survivor Herbert Hamrol encourages organizers to pull all of this together each year. He was only three at the time of the earthquake - but says his mother told him everything about that terrifying day.

"I think it's wonderful to remember what we went through," said Herbert Hamrol, 1906 earthquake survivor.

At 5:12 this morning - the sound of sirens commemorated the moment the quake hit 102 years ago. But today wasn't just about looking back. Everyone was talking about the prediction that came out this week from scientists - who say there's more than a 99 percent chance of a significant, deadly earthquake hitting in California in the next 30 years.

"We should commemorate yes, celebrate of course, but pause and reflect on the realities of living in a region of such uncertainty," said Mayor Gavin Newsom, San Francisco.

"Keep something as important as food, water and self confidence that you'll handle anything that comes along," said Herbert Hamrol.

The tradition continued over at Church and 20th Streets - where a fresh coat of paint was added to the fire hydrant that is credited with saving the south side of the Mission District in 1906 - as the rest of the city burned.

They placed a wreath at Lotta's Fountain to remind people of the 1906 earthquake and the Red Cross gave people fliers to remind them of the importance of preparing for the next disaster.


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