The 20th anniversary of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake — one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history — will be commemorated today, Jan. 17, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at California State University, Northridge.
The event, titled “The Valley of the Stars: Reaching New Heights,” has been organized by the Valley Economic Alliance, an organization created in direct response to the 1994 earthquake. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is among the prominent Los Angeles and California dignitaries and elected officials from the past and present expected to attend.
“The devastation of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake produced many heroes who helped unite businesses and residents throughout the San Fernando Valley,” said Greg Krikorian, president and CEO of the Valley Economic Alliance. “On the occasion of the earthquake’s 20th anniversary, we honor many of them for their role in helping our region rebuild and endure.”
A luncheon at the University Student Union’s Northridge Center will honor “the magnificent seven,” a group of individuals and businesses that were critical to Southern California’s recovery from the earthquake. The honorees include former Los Angeles City Councilman Hal Bernson, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan; former California Gov. Pete Wilson; retired Los Angeles Public Safety Field Deputy Jim Dellinger and Catherine Dellinger; former Los Angeles Fire Department Assistant Chief Frank Borden; and Richard Andrews, former director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES).
CSUN will be among the seven companies or organizations recognized as well.
The 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck at 4:31 a.m. on Jan. 17, 1994, with the epicenter located 1.5 miles southeast of the campus. More than 8,000 people were injured and the earthquake claimed 72 lives, including two CSUN students who lived at the Northridge Meadows Apartments, only two blocks away from the campus. All 107 buildings on the 356-acre campus were damaged, some beyond repair.
“I know that for many of you, [Jan. 17] brings back sad memories of sorting through rubble and grieving and worrying for the people lost and seriously injured,” said CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison, who was appointed president in 2012, told those attending the event. “I am humbled to join with you in continuing to honor them by carrying on the work of building our community.”
Harrison expressed “gratitude and respect” for former CSUN President Blenda Wilson, who was president during that time. Under Wilson’s leadership, the campus reopened on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, only four weeks after the earthquake. CSUN will recognize Wilson on Jan. 31 with the dedication of the Blenda J. Wilson Courtyard.
“You can see from walking around campus that a lot has changed during the 20 years,” Harrison said. The campus has been rebuilt and has some of the most state-of-art facilities in the nation, including the Valley Performing Arts Center. With nearly 39,000 students, CSUN is one of the largest campuses in the country. CSUN awards more teaching credentials than any other public institution.
In addition to the luncheon, there will be free public exhibits and workshops including presentations by the California Small Business Development Center, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Microsoft.
California State University, Northridge is located at 18111 Nordhoff St. For more information, visit www.thevalley.net.