SAN FRANCISCO -- Rain-lashed Bay area commuters struggled to work Monday, overloading ferry boats, trains, buses and freeways in the first full-scale rush hour since a powerful earthquake crippled the area's transportation system.
Strong wind and heavy rain added to the woes of northern Californians still reeling from the havoc of last week's killer earthquake, making travel even more hazardous and stalling at least one ferry in port.
Mass transit parking lots began filling up as early as 5 a.m. as people tried to get an early start on their treks to work, fearing one of the most nightmarish commutes in San Francisco history.
'This is going to be a lifestyle change for us,' warbed Rod Diridon, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
All the San Francisco Bay area's freeways -- those without major quake damage and still open -- were expected to be snarled for hours. But the worst jam was expected to be between the East Bay and San Francisco, where 100,000 commuters normally cross the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge each day.
The Bay Bridge and several major freeway arteries, including the Nimitz in Oakland, and the Embarcadero, parts of Interstate 280 and the Central Freeway in San Francisco, were closed by earthquake damage.
To get to work in San Francisco from outlying suburbs separated by bay waters, motorists braving the drive had to take long detours either over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge to the north or the San Mateo Bridge to the south.
Hundreds of thousands of commuters returned to work for the first time since the quake. Many companies closed last week because of the catastrophic quake Oct. 17 that killed at least 59 people, injured 3,011 and caused up to $10 billion damage in one of the costliest natural disasters in the nation's history.
People were encouraged to leave their cars home and rely on carpools and increased rail, subway and ferry services. Ferries were brought in from Los Angeles and Washington state to help overcome the transportation crisis.
'Not using mass transit will be seen as an anti-social act,' Diridon said. People driving alone 'are doing something wrong.'
More backups were expected on the route between Santa Cruz County and the Silicon Valley, which is normally used by 40,000 daily commuters.
Crews buoyed by the miraculous discovery of a 'tough and ornery' longshoreman found alive Saturday after 90 hours in the rubble of a quake-crumpled freeway in Oakland searched for more survivors Sunday, but found only more bodies.
Alameda County Deputy Coroner Joe Shaw said four bodies were found in the collapsed mile-long stretch of the Nimitz Freeway, the portion of Interstate 880 leading to the Bay Bridge where most of the deaths from Tuesday's earthquake occurred.
Oakland police said Sunday that 52 people were still reported missing since the earthquake, which struck at the height of the afternoon rush hour and measured 6.9 on the Richter scale.
Engineers inspecting a still-standing portion of the Nimitz Freeway found ominous cracks Sunday along with evidence that the structure had shifted, possibly in some of the thousands of aftershocks.
Streets running under that portion of the freeway were cordoned off and at least 150 people in four apartment buildings in the nearby Cypress Village complex were evacuated to a Red Cross shelter.
Oakland police said the evacuation would last only 24 hours while the still-standing portion of the freeway was being shored up, but Oakland Mayor Lionel Wilson said it could be lengthened to 48 or 72 hours.
Although engineers were trying to prop up the Nimitz with large wooden beams and steel girders, they still feared the rickety structure would collapse and send debris flying into nearby apartment buildings.
In addition to the Oakland residents evacuated Sunday, the state Office of Emergency Services in Sacramento said 7,362 people had been displaced by the quake, 5,000 of them in hard-hit Santa Cruz County south of San Francisco.
In another development, Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent and San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos announced Sunday that the World Series, suspended after two games, would resume Friday at Candlestick Park between the two local teams -- the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics.
Elsewhere, work crews at the Bay Bridge removed the 50-foot section of the upper level that collapsed onto the lower tier in Tuesday's quake. The bridge was expected to remain closed until mid-November at the earliest.
Highway 17 linking Santa Cruz with the Silicon Valley was still closed because of quake-generated mudslides, and the Highway Patrol said it would convoy car pools along the main alternate route, California 9.
Local law enforcement agencies initially projected the regionwide death toll at up to 273, but officials have since said there may have been fewer cars on the collapsed freeway than first thought, and the final death toll may be lower.
But the experts were proved wrong when they said there could be no survivors in the collapsed freeway after the easy-to-reach survivors were extricated shortly after the disaster.
Longshoreman Buck Helm was found alive Saturday in the twisted remains of his compact car, wedged in a tiny pocket of safety in the tons of twisted steel and concrete.
'He's big, strong, tough and ornery,' said waitress Lory Hartland of the Nugget Restaurant in Weaverville, where Helm was a regular customer. 'I'm not surprised he survived. He's just tough as nails.'
Doctors Sunday expressed confidence and concern about Helm's condition, which remains critical.
'He's not out of the woods yet,' said Dr. Will Fry, a member of the team treating Helm at Highland Hospital. 'We're not coming out and saying that he is wonderful and that everything is right with the world and he's going to make it, because we can't just say that.'
Hospital spokeswoman Phyllis Brown said Helm also suffered several fractured ribs and a skull fracture, but no immediately apparent lung damage. On Sunday, Helm 'was responsive to commands, and is talking a little, but kind of goes in and out.'
Another miracle survivor of the Nimitz was Julio Berumen, 6. He was pulled Tuesday night from a car crushed to a height of only about 18 inches, after doctors amputated a pinned leg. The boy was listed in stable condition Sunday, as was his sister, Cathy, 8, who suffered head injuries. Their mother and another woman were killed.
The storm increased the danger for rescue workers on the Nimitz Freeway by making the rubble slippery and prone to shift.
Rain also brought the prospect of increased misery for thousands of quake refugees in outdoor encampments, mostly in Santa Cruz County.
The state Office of Emergency Services said nearly 12,000 people have been displaced by the quake, although not all of them have been forced to stay outdoors.
Tuesday's earthquake released as much energy as 30 million tons of high explosives -- 10 times the total of all the bombs used in World War II, including the two atomic devices, said Robert Uhrhammer of the University of California-Berkeley Seismograph Stations.
While the quake was devastating for those who experienced it, Uhrhammer said the magnitude 8.3 earthquake that leveled San Francisco in 1906 was 30 times more powerful.
By early afternoon Sunday, there had been 74 aftershocks measuring more than 3.0 on the Richter Scale, each jolt sending shivers of fear among thousands of people.
'There have been thousands of aftershocks altogether,' said Steve Hickman, a U.S. Geological Survey seismologist. 'But, in general, they're trailing off. We expect them to trail off pretty dramatically after now.'
Seven state and federal disaster relief offices opened in the seven-county disaster area Sunday. Authorities asked those still able to live in quake-damaged homes to wait a few days before applying, to allow those living outdoors or in shelters to be served first.
Throughout the Bay area, there were signs of returning normalcy, as residents began shopping and visiting entertainment districts, though in far smaller numbers than usual.
In San Francisco, the normally bustling Fisherman's Wharf was virtually deserted Sunday, but people were surfing and strolling in the many areas of the city that escaped serious damage.
Transit officials braced for what they expected would be a commuting nightmare as they worked to devise ways for people living outside San Francisco to skirt disabled thoroughfares over the coming weeks.
'You may see two-hour commutes where it used to take 30 minutes,' said Chuck Purvis of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the agency coordinating the complex multi-agency response to the transportation crisis in an area spanning nine counties.
BART, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, has added trains, buses and ferries in an effort to ease the burden. The Army Corps of Engineers was dredging a channel at the Berkeley Marina for ferry operations.
Officials said of the 100,000 commuters who normally use the Bay Bridge each day they expected 60,000 to take the beneath-the-bay BART tube Monday. Another 20,000 were expected to take ferries, 10,000 use other bridges over the Bay and 10,000 to stay home altogether.