Loma Prieta survivor, rescuer reunite



The last time they saw each other Ruthann Liu Johnston was on a flatbed truck headed to the hospital. Lenora Moy had helped pull her out of her car on the /*Cypress Freeway*/ in Oakland after it collapsed on October 17th, 1989.

"I couldn't move for two weeks. After that, we kind of lost touch. I am so glad to meet my rescuer," Liu Johnston said.

The pair finally met at the /*Loma Prieta*/ Earthquake 20th Anniversary Ceremony in Oakland's Cypress Freeway Memorial Park. City officials put together an event that focused both on looking back and preparing for the next big one.

"We've retrofitted city buildings, established key partnerships, bolstered emergency equipment, trained employees and residents, and have made significant progress in revitalizing this community," Oakland Mayor /*Ron Dellums*/ told attendees.

There is even a new phone number to call for information about evacuation routes or shelter in place orders.

"We're trying to keep the phone calls limited to 9-1-1 only to life-threatening calls. Any other questions, call 2-1-1," said 2-1-1 dispatcher Barbara Bernstein.

But, as individuals, city leaders say more can be done. The American Red Cross found that 22 percent of people in the Bay Area are prepared for a disaster.

"People are a little overwhelmed by everything, so we have to really break down it into smaller pieces and say, 'You know what, every time you go grocery shopping just by one gallon of water,'" suggested Madelyn Mackie with the Red Cross.

Hearing the names of the 42 people who died on the Cypress Freeway was a stark reminder of how disastrous an earthquake can be.

"It was especially moving when they read all the names. We hadn't realized at that point. We were fortunate, very lucky. God had other plans for us," Moy said.

The pair has a lot of catching up to do. For the past 20 years, Moy did not even know Ruthann's name.

"I had always thought of her as the 'lady with the red shoes,'" she said.

Moy mailed those red shoes back to Liu-Johnston after the rescue and she has kept them all these years as a reminder of that day.

"It makes me very appreciative of what's here. At least now, I have the capacity to appreciate," she said.

Web exclusive content commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. Includes extended interviews with reporters who covered the quake, as well as city officials and first responders who lived through it all.

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