Thursday, October 01, 2009

When the Ground Trembles

I've been reading about the terrible event in Padang, Indonesia, the earthquake whose death toll still isn't known. Awful thing.

I've been in small quakes, eight or nine times, and even at low levels, it's an eerie experience.

Growing up in Louisiana, the mud didn't rock and roll. But when we moved to L.A. ... ?

First time, I was sitting in my car, parked, and suddenly the car started vibrating. My first thought was that some kind of animal, a dog, maybe, had somehow wedged itself under the car and was trying to get loose. I alighted from my vehicle to see, and when I put my feet on the ground, realized there wasn't a dog big enough to move the ground itself.

No fear, just wonder. But there weren't falling buildings around me.

Probably had five or six more low-key experiences like that over the three years we lived in SoCal.

In Oregon, in nearly thirty years, I have felt quakes but twice. First one was about five a.m. one spring day. My wife and I woke up with the bed trying to walk across the floor. We knew what it was immediately. Not a lot of damage, though one man was killed when a boulder jolted loose on a hillside and fell on his car.

Second time, I was on a massage table. I started feeling a vibration and I said, "That's an interesting technique." Therapist said, "That not me."

I feel for the folks in Indonesia. Our charity is Doctors Without Borders, or NW Medical Relief. We'll need to send them a contribution.


Brad said...

I'll contribute what I can, after finding an organization trustworthy enough.

Had one earthquake experience. First time in India, at my future in-laws. Ealry morning, around 3 AM, woke up feeling queasy, felt the bed rolling a bit. WOke up my wife and asked her "What the hell was that?"

"Earthquake, now go back to sleep."

I couldn't.

Jay said...

Earthquakes are certainly an interesting experience - I lived in Turkey when I was a kid and we had lots of little ones. The biggest tossed me out of bed and it was probably in the 4's.
Last one was in Hawaii a couple years back. Weirdest loss of power I ever saw. I was staying at Hickham AFB with a friend and it was more like a brown out; first the lights dimmed to off and then the TV went. Being 3 feet above sea level at the moment felt more like we were on a boat the way the waves of energy flowed through. We went to the beach as there was no big wave warning and the water was dead calm and we had the place to ourselves.
Read recently the Pacific Northwest is due and I live just north of a fault line in the middle of the country known for really big ones. NPR this morning had an interesting story where they question was ask could the one near American Samoa have triggered the one in Sumatra and their answer was, no.
For all we know about them, earthquakes do remind us who is really in charge of the planet.
Peace and solace to all affected.

Tiel Aisha Ansari said...

I rode out the Santa Cruz in '89, under a lab bench. Definitely one of the scariest experiences of my life. Turned out the campus was one of the safest places to be, given that it was all 60s or later construction, up to recent earthquake codes. Downtown SC was pretty badly trashed, many of the older buildings went down altogether or had to be condemned later.

Thing is, after the event itself (including the Nimitz Freeway collapse) there was very little further loss of life. People didn't starve, die of exposure or thirst; there weren't outbreaks of water-borne diseases. I'm afraid Sumatra won't be that lucky. DWB can definitely use the help.