Saturday, November 03, 2007

My Quake Experience

On the eve before All Hallows Eve, I experienced my first real earthquake. It should have been frightening but the eeriest thing was how it was mostly just fascinating. (photo credit)

I think it was because we had the understanding that if this were a major earthquake, we'd have all been in a lot of trouble but as it was happening, our sense was hopefulness that it wouldn't intensify.

Since the quake sustained the same level for the minute or so we were shaking, we were left with a feeling of awe and wonder more than fear.

I was on the 6th floor of the old Shell building in downtown San Francisco. (photo credit) The room was full of 25 other people who are also training to be Court Appointed Special Advocates for kids.

Other people reacted with surprise and shock when they first felt movement. I didn't know what they were reacting to and I was a bit annoyed at having missed something or being left out of what seemed to be some sort of inside joke.

Then someone said, "Do you feel it?" and all of a sudden I realized what was happening. We all just sat there and stared at each other with expressions of, "What should we do?" mixed with wonder, disbelief and apprehension.

At least one person did get up and ask if we shouldn't be getting out of the building. I wondered if they were right but didn't know. Other people said we were supposed to stay put. We stayed put. (photo credit)

The best way I can think of to describe the experience is that it felt a bit like sitting on top of a washing machine while it is running. The entire building moved back and forth, back and forth, back and forth for what seemed like a long while, then it stopped.

Afterwards, some people overreacted. They wanted to call off training. "What if half of the city is down?" Our trainer told us all to take five minutes to check in with a loved-one.

I called Cam to see how he & Sam were doing, find out what they had experienced and let them know that I was OK. At first, the call wouldn't go through. Everyone must have been trying to call loved-ones. After a few tries, I got through. Cam assured me they were fine. He sounded fascinated too.

It is too bad that Cam and Sam were in different parts of the house when the quake happened. Cam says, he just went sort of Zen and rode it out in the kitchen. Afterwards, he went to Sam and asked him what he thought of the quake. Sam had been reading (the Wii manual) in his room and didn't even notice it.

The next day, Sam was still bummed that he missed out on the experience. Cam read some of the news reports to us and we learned that this was the biggest quake since the one in '89.

Being in a noticeable quake, definitely makes me take the whole earthquake possibility more seriously. Interestingly, they have been heavily promoting a new earthquake preparedness initiative in Marin. We'd just signed up for a class. It is this morning. I'm glad we're going.

With both of us working across the bay from Sam, I do worry about how we would all reconnect. It would be good for us to have a safety plan.

My mom has been encouraging my brother and I to at least have water on hand. We do have 15-20 bottles of water on the back deck but that wouldn't last long if there was a real one.

Recently, I read The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, per Anthony's recommendation to Cam. The main character thinks to turn on the bathtub, to capture water, when the annihilation hits, before the pipes shut off. Would that work? Seems like a good idea.

It was a captivating book. Cam started reading it to me at the beach one day and I was hooked. I couldn't put it down. I read it on the bus and spent hours finishing it the weekend Cam was in Chicago meeting the twins. It is dark and incredibly heavy but very tender and moving too.

For our survival, my mom keeps saying I need to carry water in my car. Cam agrees this makes sense, in case we are away from home, on a hike or at the beach and experience a serious one. But we have to fill our trunk to capacity with laundry on a regular basis when we go to the laundry mat (or even the grocery store). Having superfluous stuff in the trunk is a hassle so I hadn't done it yet.

I should thank this last quake for waking me up. I intend to pay attention to the recommendations today and do my best to comply with them. I hope you and your family are inspired to Get Ready too.

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