January 10, 2010


Yesterday was our family's first major earthquake.  We do live near the beach and so we are in a tsunami hazard zone.  We have talked about what we would do during an earthquake.  We talked about what we would do if there was a tsunami. My husband said if it is big enough to throw you down then it is big enough to cause a tsunami.  This one threw my husband down on his butt while he was going down the stairs.

I was running around thinking, "Well this is an earthquake, I will go to the bathroom and ride it out.  They, (earthquakes) are usually not that strong."  I went toward the bathroom thinking about it being the strongest point in the house.  The earthquake started getting stronger not weaker.  I thought this is too big just to hide in a house...I need to get out of the house.  Then I came out of the bathroom and thought about going through the hall way to the front of the house rather than going out the back door, because the kids were in the front of the house.  I stopped right in front of the racks that are in the hall that have food stored on them.  All the sudden the big jolt came.  The metal bowls I make kim chee in flew off the top shelf, the glass jars crashed on the floor and the whole house was rocking from side to side.  I was looking across the cataclysm at Catherine.  I thought I am not going to be able to go through the hall to get you.  I can just tell you to get out of the house and that is what I am going to do and trust that you will be safe and do what I tell you.  It was a very out of control moment.  But I knew that it was more important for me to get out of the house and be safe than for me to get hurt and others to risk their life to help me.  So in some ways it did feel selfish to turn around and save myself...it was a twisted logic that  worked.  Maybe it is part of the Serenity Prayer that I have tried to practice in other areas of my life that came into play here.

We all got outside.  Joe was the last one out.  He was looking for me.  He couldn't hear me screaming for him to get out of the house and he kept calling me, believing me to have been knocked out.  It is so scary to think that he was still in there and I had to just keep calling for him to get out of the house.  He said it was very noisy and he couldn't hear me calling.  I told him that even you going through the house and kicking the jars that were on the floor would be very noisy and I could understand.  We decided that next time we all take care of our self first and get out of the house and then assess if anyone is still in the house later.

 There was a power pole that had shorted and was smoking in the front of the house.Catherine and Joe both remember hearing it short and seeing sparks....I guess in the house?  We were all gathered around and running toward the truck.  Joe unlocked the truck doors and we all piled in.We raced off the island.  We would have been the first off the island if it weren't for a car from Florida that pulled out in front of us on our way out.  I think the people were sight seeing because they were not going fast enough...for us.  If there had been a tsunami and it was that close every second would count. We saw other people were starting to get in their cars and get off the island as well.  This was not dress rehearsal this was  the real  thing.

Last year the power company who has a power plant on King Salmon, replace the only exit bridge on the island.  The old bridge we were later informed had sheered off 2 feet making it dangerous to drive across.  If that had been out only bridge we would have had to stop the truck and either walk across or go back to the highest point on the hill behind the Power Plant.  We would probably have done the latter as it was closer and would get us to higher elevation the fastest.

When we got off the island we went up the hill to a friends house.  Joe had his two way radio in the truck and started listening to the traffic reports.  We then learned that it was a 6.5 magnitude earth quake, but there was no risk of a tsunami.  After about 20 minutes later. we went to he TV station where my husband is the chief engineer.  They were also without power.

We got back in the truck went to the house ...saw that it was structurally sound and made plans to go back to the TV station.  Joe got the boys to load up the generator and some electrical cords.  We all went back to the TV station.  There was another engineer there that was moving the live truck into place to do a live shot.  They got the generator on the truck started and light turned on.  Joe started working on getting the 1940's back up generator running. He had warned the manager that the generator was too old and was not a reliable back up generator in case of an emergency.   He sent Isaac up to check and see what color the fuel was.  Isaac reported that it was cloudy but not black.  At this time they are all working with flash lights. They needed some thing and the other engineer had a friend that had an auto parts store.  So they called him up and he went and opened up his store and sold him the part.  The engineer said the store counter had fallen right on it's face.  It was a mess in there...and yet the man helped us out.

The generator started and Joe started turning things on.   They got the TV station back on the air.

The Camera was ready, the light was on and Joe went and found the news girl.  She was new and this was her first earthquake that she had ever been through. He came to her and  gave her the mic, she said, "What do you want me to do."  He said, "Get on the air and tell them what you know."  There wasn't enough light  so Joe got his little flashlight out and shined it on her face.  It looked like a movie.  It was an emergency and she looked like she was reporting on and in an emergency.  She had her news reporter notebook out that she was reading from and she was reporting what she knew.
       Catherine said, "This is so ghetto."  Maybe but sometime it is the appropriate technology that works and is the right thing for the situation.  I told her this looks right, this looks like the way it really felt.  It would be neat if we could get a hold of that video...if we do I will try to post it.

     About an hour later the generator quit...died.

     All that we could do was to transmit on the air live but nothing from the affiliate.  Since there was no electricity there was no way to get any live footage and edit it and replay it on the air.  So they made a little hand made written sign that said that they would be back  and taped it to the side of the new truck. (I wish I could remember what the sign said.  I wish I would have taken the sign when we left, because we were the last ones to leave).

   When the DJ from the radio station, that shares our parking lot came over and told us their generator had died.  Joe told him that he had a generator in his truck that they could use.  This radio station was one of  two stations that was keeping people informed.  It is nice to live and be a part of a community.  Joe said that the guys at the radio station couldn't have been more pleased to get that generator out of the truck than if you had said it was gold.

   The DJ said that there had been a lot of phone calls that came in concerning large screen TV's that they had gotten for Christmas all busted.  Talk about the Grinch that stole Christmas.

    I was glad I had been keeping my house clean.  My biggest tragedy was the laundry soap and come off the shelf.  It was the kind that has a spout that you press.  Well I had the lid off and it had poured all over the washer and dryer.  I thought this is just a little inconvenience.  It wasn't long till every thing was swept up and it was time to go to bed...at 1:30 in the morning.  It was a long day.


The fearless threader said...

I'm glad you all survived and that things weren't lost and destroyed by the earthquake. It's also good to hear that your house wasn't damaged beyond repair.

It is good that you live in a community which can pull together so well and so quickly.

Lynn said...

omygod! You emails didn't sound anything like this. I was almost in tears reading your fear for your kids and the thought of a possible tsynomi...i cannot even imagine that kind of fear.
You sounded like you handled it all with calm and serinity.

How old are your kids? They seemed to have handled themselves really well too. Everyone pulling together, as family and as community. Wow. I am impressed.

On the news tonight they showed the results of another earthquake in your area around 1999 with lots of fires and much much more awful damage.

Who fixed the downed power line in front of your house?

Sorry you had to clean up the washing soap mess. Glad that was all it was.

Hugs!!! Be safe!!!

Melissa said...

I don't live in earthquake country and I am glad I don't. We have tornadoes here, but I remember as a kid saying that they were better than earthquakes because at least you can hide from a tornado. But to hear you live with earthquakes and tsunamis? That is too much! Glad everything turned out OK for you all!

Misti Ko said...

I'm so glad you are all safe. Wow, what an ordeal to have gone through.

Quilt Architect said...

We are safe. But we are still waiting for another big one. They say that sometimes there will be one just as big or bigger as that one in the week after a big one or that it is more likely that there will be one as big or a little smaller...say a 5. So we are kinda up tight. We are also laughing a little about it.

Good thing that I bought some fabric Saturday morning. I threw it in the laundry before the earthquake. i had to rewash it after because the soap leaked into the washer and dryer.

So today...really tonight I finally decided to iron it. I went to look for the iron and it was not on the ironing board. I looked under neath it and it was on it's side and turned on to wool. It was plugged in. It was sitting on a wool rug. It didn't burn anything but it was a scare...as it had been on for more than 12 hours. Another rule...don't leave the iron plugged in.

I have been writing up a list of things that I wish I had done before the earthquake. I will write a post soon...so that we can all brainstorm together on what I might not have thought of.

Iviva Olenick said...

So glad you and your loved ones are okay.

Anonymous said...

I am so thankful all of you are alright! I have been through earth quakes and I know that feeling but,
not with the threat of a tsunami!
Oh my goodness! My son said there was an earthquake where he was but he did not feel it. hugs!

arlee said...

Becky, i'm glad all is well with you and your home and family! I lived on an island that was prone to thankfully small earthquakes --and there was no way off if you didn't have a boat.
At least soap is easy to clean up :}

Quilt Architect said...

My kids age are: Catherine is 13, Isaac 16 and Winston 20.

Louise Bird said...

Reading your blog entry has really shocked me. I thank God you and yours are all ok. Where is your island?
The UK has had a little snow and cold weather, but this puts it into perspective. I hope and pray you will be safe.

MafiosaGrrl said...

OK, so I'm a total stranger, so I hope it''s not too weird but it's good that you and yours are ok. It is a strange feeling isn't it? I've been in a few shakers too. I have a lot friends in Humboldt County and was glad to find our that no one was seriously injured. Here is Santa Rosa, there has been a lot of talk about the Roger's Creek Fault, especially after the last week with all of the quakes around here. A friend that works for the USGS says thats the next big one. Reminds me that I should be more prepared.

Quilt Architect said...

Always nice to have a visitor, MafiosoGrrl, Welcome.

Here are some links:



We live on King Salmon, it is actually not an island except that it is surrounded by water and there is only bridge to escape. It is inside the Bay. I can see the jaws of the bay from the second story or from the beach which is within walking distance. It is below sea level...so they say we are "in the water". There is a dike around us. The island was sorta created on a marsh with man made canals.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad that you and your family are okay. What a terrible scare for all of you! I have been near tornados, several times in my life, hearing them in the dark, and wondering how close they are and what is going to happen. But I have never suffered actual damage, nor the fear of something else happening, like the tsunami, afterwards, as you have been through. It must be so very unsettling, and hard to put behind you, too. Bless you!! I hope you can get into your art in a big way to help you!! xo Kari