Sunday, January 10, 2010


As big earthquakes go, it wasn't bad. We got lucky. Though I expect to hear reports of more extensive damage, and perhaps injuries, later this morning, as of now it's just broken windows and a few snapped gas lines. Mostly just shaken nerves and small items fallen off shelves. (It does sound though that Eureka's Bayshore Mall might have some structural damage, as people reported floor tiles popping up and falling light fixtures/ceiling tiles, and a few ambulances on-scene. And downtown Ferndale is a mess.)

(photos lifted from this article on

I also feel personally lucky that I was outside for this one. (Being inside during a temblor can be an awful sensation.) I really dislike the groaning and creaking buildings make during quakes—it was much better hearing all the metal signposts and streetlights rattling. Boy, did they shake! I watched them and the trees sway as I stood in a shika-dachi next to my mailmobile.

It's difficult to gauge the intensity of a quake from the ground, without knowing how near or far you are from the epicenter. I initially thought it was closer, and of lesser intensity. But everybody coming outside and talking about it immediately afterward will clue me in next time. People don't do that for little quakes. And everybody was outside.

(To give you an idea of the scale, from my house in Arcata to Old Town in Eureka is about a 15-minute drive on Hwy 101. It's about 40 minutes on 101 to reach Fernbridge, the spot on the road where you turn off to Ferndale, ten minutes down that road. A bit further on is Fortuna, marked on the map, almost an hour away by car down 101.)

After chatting with the customers on my route and tried to call my husband. Could not get through. Huh. So I tried out our Emergency Plan: calling my brother-in-law in Denver to report in. Didn't work. I made my last few stops and headed back to the PO. That's when I heard from the Postmaster that it was a 6.5! Fortunately for everyone living in the Bottoms, Manila, and Samoa, no tsunami warning. I swung by the Co-op to check on family there, to see employees busily cleaning up food that had tumbled off the shelves. My step-son was fine, and was with his siblings, wife, and son, all okay.

At home a couple of blocks away my husband and neighbors were all out on the sidewalk. Everybody's fine, no damages, no odor of leaking gas. Everybody's got flashlights and camping lanterns. It is, after all, California. We are used to natural disasters. Which is why we have this Emergency Plan in the first place. And the damn thing didn't work!

Inside, our earthquake kit was on the bed and open. My husband has a pocketful of LED flashlights—Harbor Freight, on sale two for two dollars!—and our hand-crank radio tuned to a local station for news and earthquake-themed music. A couple of framed pictures were hanging crooked, a few knick-knacks fell off the shelf, and a jar of pickles rolled onto the floor, but did not break. No power. No phone. No Internet. We recounted our experiences, cuddled, ate some dinner by candlelight, listened to the radio. I read a little bit by flashlight, about Joseph and his brothers in the land of Pharaoh.

And then I got a text message. Huh! It did not even occur to me to try texting when voice calls wouldn't go through. I sent a text to my brother-in-law saying we were all okay, and to ask him to please call my mom and let her know, too. 'Cause it might be a 3G world, but you still can't text a land-line.

This morning? A quiet rosy-dawned Sunday morning, looking for all the world like business as usual. A good time to get one of those radios if you don't already have one. Seriously.

1 comment:

David Scott said...

Good to hear you and your family are fine after the event.

Here in the UK you can text a land line! It gets turned into voice. The voice used to be Tom Baker, an actor who used to be Doctor Who, you can hear how it sounds at Tom Baker Says.