A quarter century has passed, but David Miller will never forget the sound.It was like there was a freight train under my house,” he said, recalling the moment 25 years ago Thursday, Jan. 17, when the Earth’s plates suddenly slipped along a previously unknown fault 11 miles beneath his Prairie Street home in Northridge.

What Miller heard in those predawn moments was the sound of nearby buildings collapsing. Freeways fell, gas mains burst and neighbors screamed, as a magnitude 6.7 quake jolted millions of Southern Californians awake.

“I honestly thought we weren’t going to make it,” recalls Marnie Nemcoff, who lived in Reseda, the quake’s epicenter.The shaking was less than 20 seconds. But it was enough to kill at least 57 people, injure 9,000 and cause $40 billion in damage throughout Southland communities.

“It looked and felt like Armageddon,” Nemcoff said.Twenty-five years later, the Northridge earthquake, the last major quake to hit Southern California, continues to impact lives, pocketbooks and public policies.

But how much has really changed in terms of technology and safety standards since the mystery fault revealed itself on that clear January morning? Are people more prepared? And when a large quake strikes again, will the damage be reduced?