Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shake, Rattle, Roll

I hate earthquakes! I’ve lived right on top of the San Andreas Fault in Southern California my whole life (with the exception of 8 years in and after college) so have experienced my fair share. They are very unsettling and make me quite nervous. However, the earthquakes I’ve felt have been fairly mild; mainly 4s and 5s. The largest earthquake in SoCal in my lifetime was the January 17, 1994 “Northridge Quake” which was a 6.7 and I was not in the state for that one.

On January 16, 1994 I returned to New Hampshire for the 2nd semester of my junior year. Due to the time difference, I got to my apartment pretty late that night and just crashed. The next morning, when I woke up, my roommate had the TV on, and she told me that the news was reporting an earthquake in the Los Angeles county. I kind of shrugged it off thinking, “Yah, we have them a lot.” But when I joined her on the couch, it was apparent that this wasn’t one of our 4-5 magnitude quakes.

Watching the damage in Northridge on the news I was shocked, but the closeness to home really didn’t sink in until I saw these…
earthquake2 earthquake

This is the 5 and 14 freeway interchange also known as the only way in and out of the town I live in. “Oh my god!” I blurted out, “I live there!” Complete and utter panic set in at that time. I, of course, picked up the phone and dialed home right away. Nothing but a busy signal. I tried everyone I knew. Nothing but a busy signal. In the meantime, the footage on the news was getting worse and worse. After a couple of hours I finally got a phone call from my cousin who lives in Ventura County. They felt the quake, but didn’t have any damage and their phone lines were still open. They had been in touch with my parents and they were ok, so that was a relief.

Over the next few days more and more information came in and my parents were able to contact me. Things were a mess, but everyone I knew was safe and sound.

Because of cost, my parents only brought me home from school for Christmas and for summer, but I really wanted to go home for spring break to see them. I used my credit card and got myself a ticket to fly home in March. Things had been cleaned up, but the property damage had not been repaired, waiting on the insurance. It was crazy! One of our chimneys had fallen off the house, one whole side of our brick wall had fallen onto our neighbor’s house, our fireplace facade had fallen over, and their were numerous cracks in the walls inside and outside the house. My parents had pictures of the house before things got cleaned up. Some things that really hit home happened in my bedroom. The small television that sat on the armoire across from my bed had been catapulted off the armoire onto the bed. There was also a cheap, plastic, and empty CD holder that sat on the floor against one of my walls. In the shaking, it impaled itself into the wall. Crazy!

Part of me is SO relieved that I was not there during that earthquake. Everyone said it was so scary. On the other hand, having not gone through it, I’m so dreading the next one we have because I don’t know what to expect.

There have been a lot of earthquakes recently; earthquakes in really weird places, places that aren’t known for them. Some say these quakes lessen the “pressure” on the faults, others say they are just a precursor to what’s to come, while others still say one doesn’t have anything to do with the other. Whatever they are, I don’t like it!

Have you been in an earthquake before?



  1. I can't imagine being that far away from my family and something like that happening. that's so scary!
    I live in Pennsylvania, so we haven't ever had an earthquake. My location at the bottom of a mountain also has helped protect our house from a lot of wind.

  2. If us blonds don't get our quesdillas, burritos and tacos, people are going to die. :)

  3. OMG how scary! We recently had an itty bitty earthquake in CNY - that's enough for me!

    ~stopped by from MamaKats

  4. I was home from college winer break for that one and Oh My GOD!! I now completely live in fear of the big one! I have a flashlight next to my bed and shoes under my bed at all times. I, too, worry about the random big quakes around the world and fear that they are, in fact, a precursor for us. Oh, why did you post this? Now I have diarrea!

  5. That was "winter" break as oppsoed to "winer" break...which is a whole different thing!

  6. the most difficult thing when catastrophes like this strike is not knowing if your family's safe. a part of you just want to run where they are, while the other side is so thankful that we werent there to experience it.

    thanks for stopping by my blog ;)

  7. Oh my goodness Pumpkin! That sounds like pure craziness. The pictures are beyond alarming. Scary!

    So glad that your parents and all the ones you loved were safe.

    I have never been in one. I hope that I never am.

  8. Native Californian here...was in the '71, '94, all the little ones AND the 7.1 here in the Bay Area in '89. I married a geologist- he thinks earthquakes are the best!

    I taught right atop the San Andreas fault and worked briefly at the former San Andreas School.


  9. We didn't really get many earthquakes in the Midwest, although apparently there was a small one when I was in 2nd grade. I didn't notice.

    Apparently there is a major fault line here in WestOz, When I was looking for properties, a few of them were right above this fault line and they all had to be earthquake proof.

    I just found that article that says this fault line hasn't caused anything major yet, but if or rather when it does, Perth will be destroyed!!

    How scary is that!!!!!!

    We could fall in to the ocean before you do!

  10. Wow, that is crazy. I live in NY and it's just one of those things we hear about, but it never happens here. Glad everyone was safe.

    Oh and since I love your tagline and The Clash was playing when I opened the page, you have a new reader!

  11. I've been through 1 tornado and 2 hurricanes (the tornado was terrifying)... and actually slept through a teeny tiny EQ here in North Georgia (some people were awakened by it... not me). I don't think I would like it very much to have the ground shake.

  12. Yep. That Northridge quake was a huge nightmare. I thought I was going to die.

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