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Rescuers of Cypress

Learning from Disaster


Cynthia Stuhlmiller

Rescuers of Cypress: Learning from Disaster is a living document, a testimony of the dramatic acts of the men and women who transcended their known abilities to save lives and retrieve bodies from the Interstate-880 Cypress Street viaduct following the October 17, 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The firefighters, pararescuers, transportation workers, and coronerinvestigators who informed this study reflect courage and human possibility as well as a sense of shared vulnerability. The most striking thread throughout the story is the reservoir of shared cultural meanings related to personal commitment, dedication to saving lives, avoidance of suffering, confrontation with death, and the solace of families. The stories capture a sense of community and solidarity that prevailed in one particular moment in history.