Aug 24, 2011

Well that was terrifying

I'm sure you're aware by now of the earthquake that hit the East Coast of the United States yesterday. I've never experienced an earthquake before...until yesterday. And after going through it, I have no idea how the hell people live in California.

I was sitting at my desk at work and a rumbling started. I wasn't sure what it was at first - one of my co-workers later said it sounded like someone took the huge printer/copier and was running down the hallway with it - but as it continued the thought crossed my mind that this could be an earthquake. This can't be happening, we don't get earthquakes here, I was telling myself, even as I hurried into the door frame of my office. I looked around the corner and saw co-workers doing the same thing, confirming it was indeed an earthquake.

I think it was then that it really hit me what was going on. The earth was moving of its own volition, and all I could do was wait it out. I will never forget the sensation of the earth rolling beneath my feet. It felt like it went on forever, but after another roll or so, it seemed to settle. I didn't move, I was kind of in a daze, and then I saw a few people walking by, saying to head to the stairs.  

Why do I want to stand in the stairwell?

I didn't understand they were saying go down the stairs and get out of the building. I was mentally very confused but my body just started doing. (Ben later told me this was my fight or flight instinct kicking in so I'm glad to know it works!) I had the presence of mind to close the water bottle on my desk in case something else happened (I didn't want water spilling all over my computer), CTRL+ALT+DEL'ed my computer, grabbed my purse, and headed to the stairwell.

I carried on a little conversation about earthquakes as we all filed out of the building and into the grassy area across the way, and it wasn't until I was safely outside and standing around testing my cell phone service (I could text, but not call), that my body started to relax. And by relax I mean, freak out.

I felt like I was going to puke and I was shaky, and I just kept talking with my co-workers. Because apparently when I freak out I just word vomit everything. We discovered the earthquake was declared a 5.8 on the richter scale, the epicenter was in Mineral, VA, (only about 84 miles from where our office was), and that the quake was felt all the way up to New York.

Once the cell phone signals started to restore themselves I finally got ahold of Ben - I'd been texting him but he wasn't responding (even though other people were), and I was starting to worry. A few of my co-workers learned that when I'm worried I start cussing like it's my job, even if it's about my husband whom I love dearly. I'm pretty sure I uttered the phrase, "I don't care if it's annoying, I'm going to text this f*cker until he responds," at one point. See? Word vomit.

Ben had the day off and last time I had talked to him, he was about to take a nap. I had visions of things falling, and him not being able to get out of the apartment in time because he was asleep, even though I knew (from what we were looking up on our phones), that the earthquake hadn't seemed to cause any structural damage. When I was finally able to get ahold of him, I asked if he was okay and if he had felt the earthquake, and his response was "that's what that was?"  

God bless this man who makes me laugh even at times like this.

Apparently he had been sleeping and woke up to the bed shaking - he thought it was our apartment complex mowing the grass right outside our apartment and that they were somehow shaking our wall. (To his credit, they do tend to do super loud maintenance things whenever we're sleeping). It then took him awhile to find his phone because it had been knocked off his nightstand, and by the time he got it I was calling, so it hadn't even processed with him that it was an earthquake.

Our office stayed outside for awhile longer, until we got the all clear to go back in. I was tentative - I mean, how did I know the earth wouldn't start moving again? I was tweeting like crazy at this point, and I still felt shaky and nauseous. But before I could even get settled, Ben called and asked if I was coming home early. He'd walked outside to make sure everything was okay with his car after the earthquake...and locked himself out of the apartment. 

God bless this man who makes me laugh even at times like this.

I was actually grateful Ben had locked himself out, because I really just wanted to be home with him. Hours later my head was still pounding and I was still feeling unsettled. I know earthquakes happen often in certain places, but I'd never felt one before. And as someone pointed out on twitter, as much as we don't want to, when a noise or things start to happen in this area, we think it's 9-11 all over again.

Thank God there aren't a lot of injuries, thank God for twitter, because when the cell phone networks were jammed that's how I was able to track down my family and friends, and please Lord don't ever have me go through that again - I'm not sure I could take it.

Have you ever experienced an earthquake? How did you react? Was there anything you did to "settle" yourself afterwards?


Megan said...

I didn't feel it in Tennessee, but I can't even imagine! I'd be terrified. I'm glad everything is okay and that it didn't cause damage!

Brittany said...

Yeah, ditto that on the 9/11 paranoia. I was also at work and we went outside, but I was less afraid of an earthquake and more afraid that something awful was going down.

Dan worked overnight last night, so I was home alone with Henry during 2 more aftershocks. That sucked. :/ It's definitely a really powerless feeling.

Mandy said...

I'm glad that you all are ok. I can't imagine that feeling and it is scary. Did you feel any aftershocks? They evacuated buildings here in the valley. Some people felt some rumbling and swaying but I didn't.

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

That was crazy! I'm sort of in a weird, freakish way, a little jealous. I want to feel an earthquake! But, I am sure once I have felt one I will never want to feel one again!
I'm so glad both you and Ben are okay!

Lauren Drugan said...

I'm glad you're okay! My experience was very similar, and I am sitting here at my desk with the chills just HOPING that there are no aftershocks today!

Nora said...

So glad that you are safe and everyone is ok that you know and love! The one time we had an earthquake in STL I was in Vegas, and had just gone to bed at 5am when my phone went crazy with people calling to see if I was ok. So I can't really say what it would feel like at all, and I'm honestly incredibly afraid of earthquakes.

I can say that when I was in the tornado earlier this year I felt just like you did... flight or fight, then terrified, then word vomit, and it took me a few days to get settled. When we get really bad storms now with high wind, I tend to tense up much more than I used to. A little post-traumatic stress I guess.


Lucy The Valiant said...

So scary!! I'm glad you're ok!

Amber said...

Glad you're OK! One time a really BIG earthquake happened in Vancouver and we felt it all the way up in FSJ! That is a big deal because FSJ is like 1,500 km away from Vancouver. I think by the time it hit us up there it was only around the 5 scale and it wasn't a long earthquake. Things rumbled for maybe 30 seconds and a picture fell off the wall.

I think that's the only earthquake I've ever experienced. It's the only one sticking out in my memory anyways. the west coast gets earthquakes all the time but they rarely make it through the mountains to where I live!

Annie said...

Yikes! We felt it @ work all the way in Cincinnati! I was standing talking to a coworker and all of a sudden, people around us starting freaking out (in a mild way). At first I thought I was getting ready to pass out b/c it was that swaying feeling right before, but I was actually swaying standing up. My friend, who I was talking with, was sitting down and I could see her shaking in her chair. About half our office felt it and half didn't - odd - depending on their location. It was only a few seconds, but felt much longer.

I would pay money to see you cuss like it's your job ;) Glad you're safe, kiddo!

OurLittleAshley said...


Yep, it was felt here in Ohio, so I can't IMAGINE what it felt like in VA. SO wild!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

That is so crazy. I was so surprised when I heard you guys had an earthquake as you just don't associate those with your part of the country. I am glad you all are ok. Very frightening!

I have never experienced an earthquake and hope I never do.

Kait said...

Just found your blog through Ashley at That is All... sad I can't make it to the meet-up in Sept.

I'm glad to see someone else freaked out like I did. I reacted the same way. Even after I knew things were okay I felt unhinged from the flashbacks of 9/11. It was scary!

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