Archive for August, 2011

My Quake Take

Here’s the long and short of it, in no particular order…

1. The house stood up perfectly.  In fact, I think it’s better than it was.  The bathroom door does not squeak as loud and the front stairs seem sturdier (though Corey could have corrected it by falling down them yesterday and spilling and breaking  beer bottles on the sidewalk).  The only damage was that my earring holder fell down, and that seems to happen a bit.  Kitchen is sturdy!  Front stairs needed to be replaced anyway, now these are just two reasons to do it.

2. The office did not fair as well.  City Hall is opened tomorrow, except for my area and the area below me where the planners sit.  If you ask me, there were probably things wrong with that area before the quake, like incandescent blue and red mold (Party in Mold Town!).  But that’s what happens when a building from 1961 is integrated with a building from 1871 – you get a few weak spots.  From the five minutes I was there after the evacuation to gather my things, I saw one broken internal window, a few cracks on the wall (which, in all honesty, what building from 1871 doesn’t have cracks?) and plaster pieces on the blue carpet.  I was wise enough to bring work home with me, so I may be working from home tomorrow.

3. I watched the whole thing go down outside at the corner of Royal Street and Cameron Street.  Luckily, I had left Ross a few minutes earlier to hustle to get to a 2:00 conference call.  Could you imagine if “my story” was that I was shopping in Ross during the great quake of 2011?  No thanks.  That place is a mess anyway.   During the quake I had my wallet and a bag of extra large sassy underwear, including a size 42D bra, a small clutch and a packet of cheap lip gloss samples.  Oh, for shame! I was hoping my coworkers flooding out of the building would not judge if they could see through the bag because really, carrying that bag was bad enough.

4. So the corner of Royal and Cameron around 1:51pm…I felt what seemed to be an imaginary breeze.  My eyes saw a breeze – birds flew into the air simultaneously, trees were shaking, buildings were creaking, bricks were flying through the air and that steeple.  I will have dreams about that steeple.  It was swaying every which way.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.  Which is probably why I thought it was a breeze.  My balance is not the greatest and I frequently get dizzy spells, so I’ve learned to trust my eyes.  Thinking back, I probably felt the quake because I remember taking a step backwards – why would I do that to hustle to a meeting?  Point is, it moved me, but I get “moved” by my dizziness enough not to notice.  I noticed today!

5. I felt certain that was not an earthquake.  100% certain.  I bet the intern $5 that it wasn’t – surely it was a gas explosion (the big breeze perhaps?) or something from the construction site a block away.  But then people started pouring out into the street.  Everyone was pretty calm for the most part, though some were a bit shaken.  We met at our safety spot, until we realized that was a courtyard on top of a parking garage that probably wasn’t safe.  After about 30 minutes (of hiding the Ross bag), we were allowed in to collect our things.  Our office was dismissed around 2:40pm.

6. Luckily, we had a “safe house”.  I remember on 9/11 my house on Capital Hill was the safe house for all the staffers who lived in VA, and now I was in VA going to a safe house.  Planner Katye, Planner Maya, Planner Brandi and Planner Nate made their way to Katye’s house to watch the news and relax while we let traffic pass by.  We mostly played with our phones and let out a single laugh from time to time at a clever Facebook post.  Speaking of clever, the news coverage was stellar.  And by stellar, I mean comedic.  Pat Collins at it again!  We were certainly entertained.  I got home around 6:30, and my plans for the evening have been postponed until tomorrow night.

The planner crew after the earthquake.

The planner crew after the earthquake.

7. At 1:59 I got my first text message, from Paul in Boston, asking about the earthquake.  How amazing is that?  We didn’t even know what was happening and I got word that quickly.  Our cell phones were blocked for quite awhile, and those things are useless in emergencies.  Folks, we should have better plans.  I had just finished my NIMS training, required by all Transportation employees for working emergency situations, so I felt extra prepared.  But not really because I didn’t even have my city badge on me.  But, thanks to those two workshops that lasted a whole day combined, I at least knew what was going on behind the scenes and I felt good about that.

8. Not that anyone is counting, but that’s one earthquake during my four years in Southern California and THREE earthquakes in DC in the last three years.  (Earthquake #1 post here, and the second minor one at work when Salsa Mike and I noticed it because we used to live in CA).  I remember having a debate with Sweet Pea, a west coaster, about earthquakes (west coast) vs. hurricanes (east coast), and here we are getting both in one week.  This is truly special.  Stay safe everyone!