It’s almost midnight and I just felt a very nice little tremor.
I’ll update when info is available.
Fifteen minutes later, another small tremor occurs a little closer to home.
For the last week or so, we’ve been experiencing what’s called a “swarm” of earthquakes. Most of us don’t feel them. Most of them are relatively small, or too far away to be felt. When you live in California, this is just something you live with.
There are times when you notice a quake. You can’t help it. In the more than 30 years that I’ve called California home, only a few quakes have truly rattled me.
Back in 1987, the Whittier quake scared the hell out of me. I was living in Long Beach, CA., in a brand new apartment building. I was taking a shower when I felt a rolling sensation, quickly followed by a sharp sidelong shift. The glass doors on the shower were bowing and I struggled to stay on my feet. It seemed to go on forever. Once it stopped, I finished rinsing my hair, got out of the shower, slipped into my robe and went to check for damage. My roommate was coming out of his room at the same time and we stood there for a moment just looking at each other.
We’d narrowly missed the TV being smashed to pieces by my roommate’s enormous bottle he’d placed on top of the entertainment center. It was just barely hanging in there. We took it down. We checked everything else we could think of; gas connections, water, etc. The entire time we were doing this, the TV was on. An L.A. anchorman took some flak for diving under his desk on the newsroom set. I always thought he did the right thing. That’s what we’re trained to do in California schools. Duck and cover. Or find a doorway. That’s all the anchorman did, and he was criticized for his sensible actions.
Tremors continued as we tried to get ready for work. I’d never experienced anything like these tremors. In San Diego, you’re on solid rock more often than not. In Long Beach, it’s sand, shifty sand. Between the shifting and rolling and the new building, when my roommate and I attempted to open our door, we found it wouldn’t budge. Looking at the door frame, it was easy to see why. It was crooked. It hadn’t been that way when I went to bed the night before.
The roommate and I looked at each other and then over at the living room windows. Yep, we pried the screen off and exited from our apartment the only way we could.
At work, we had a few broken televisions, VCRs, and Commodore 64s to clean up. The rest of the day was spent with folks coming in to replace broken items and people standing in doorways. Aftershocks were frequent.
By the end of my shift, I was reluctant to return home. I was unsure of what I’d find there. Would anything be left? I waited until my roommate and my former boyfriend were ready to leave. Together, we headed back to the apartment. Everything was intact and, by some fluke, our door worked. It was a little difficult to open at first, but it worked. No more window climbing for us.
I don’t get too worried about earthquakes these days. I figure if I could make it through that, I can make it through anything. Still, any tremor reminds me that a large earthquake could happen at any time. I think back on what it was like in Long Beach in 1987 and thank my lucky stars that I’d chosen to live there and not further north. Others weren’t so lucky. Eight people died as a direct result of the Whittier quake, and $350 million dollars was the official total in damage. We weren’t so lucky a couple years ago with the fires, but we still fared better than what the U.S. south faces in the months to come.
Along the U.S. Gulf Coast, damage is much worse. More lives have been lost. It will take more money than one can imagine to help those who have lost everything. If you haven’t donated yet, please do so now.