Unlike most people, Stacy and Sean O’Rourke say they are “big fans” of their Northridge earthquake story.
School had been cancelled for Stacy, who lived in Northridge, for weeks after the Jan. 17, 1994 Northridge earthquake, and at the same time, school was also cancelled for Sean in Portland, Connecticut due to a major blizzard in the northeast. And what would two stuck-at-home 14-year-olds decide to do with their downtime? Flirt in an online teen chatroom, of course.
“That’s what we would do,” Stacy said. “We couldn’t go to the mall – they were still surveying the connecting bridges over the 118 – so we just hung out at home a lot.”
She met Sean with her friends a few days after the earthquake.
“A guy started messaging us and joking back and forth – I wasn’t witty and I remember it was like a lot of ‘yo mama’ jokes,” she said. “I was typing, and my friends were telling me what to write.”
However, Stacy later messaged Sean online by herself, and a couple days later he called her.
“It was this squeaky voice,” she recalled.
Through many more phone calls, emails, and Instant messages, Stacy and Sean developed a long-distance relationship. He visited her in California when they were 16, and they later attended California State Northridge. The couple married in 2006.
“It was his personality, I guess,” she said. “I knew who he was, and I started to like him after a few months… I fell in love with him.”
Today Stacy is a fifth grade teacher at Parethenia Street Elementary in North Hills, and Sean is a research coordinator for NBCUniversal. The 34-year-olds live in Porter Ranch, “a minute away” from Stacy’s parents’ house, which had been damaged by the earthquake. They have a four-year-old son and eight-month old daughter.
“It's amazing that we were both in the same place at the same time because we didn't have school,” Sean said.