Bouncing off of the Walls in a 6.5 Earthquake Trying to Save a Goldfish

I lived on the Central Coast of California and I have a few earthquakes under my belt — nothing too crazy — I think the most was 6.5 on the Richter scale. I was definitely aware of the earthquake. I lived in a 3 story townhouse at the time and I was on the middle floor and was home from work that day. I recall being faced with a dilemma — save our Christmas tree or run upstairs and make sure the 39 cent goldfish “Ahi Tuna” remained safe and sound. I headed up the stairs to the top floor and I recall being amazed at how much the building swayed. Ahi made it — I grabbed his bowl before it fell off of the bookcase. Success.

My boyfriend at the time came home from school and asked how I was doing and I was so proud that I saved Ahi from a brutal demise, of which I was greeted with a lecture from a Turkish national who had survived several very deadly earthquakes. According to him the key is to get out of the building. In fact, earlier that day he had a friend from Turkey, who was attending the same university, actually jump from a bathroom window for fear the university’s building would collapse with the 6.5 quake. Poor guy.

I of course scoffed at his concerns because after all we were in California and our building codes were superior… It’s not like buildings collapse from earthquakes in our region?!?! (See CNN article documenting the deaths from the older building collapse) Oh, the hubris. He was right. This was the turning point where I realized that we are all vulnerable — some  aspects of protection are based on pure luck while others are based on how we choose to respond when the ground begins shaking.

Earthquake Richter Scale

Earthquake Richter Scale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)    (Poor guy.) That just floored me. I reminded him that we were in the United States and we, of course, (Cut me some slack, I was very naive at the time) had better building codes in the state of California (Please check out the CNN story at the end of this post… two people died from this earthquake because of a building collapse… touche he was correct). Please forgive the hubris.

What did I learn from this experience? 

  • Don’t rely on the building code
  • Secure your bookcase and if you are worried about something valuable (even if it’s a 39 cent goldfish, keep it close to the ground)
  • Make a sound decision to either duck and cover (if it’s a new building) and if it’s un-reinforced masonry then make a call to get out of the building as soon as possible. This is your call — size up the building and determine what works for you. (Again, I am no expert – it’s purely up to you)
  • Find someone who has been through a larger earthquake to give you sound advice

CNN Article:

http://articles.cnn.com/2003-12-22/us/ca.earthquake_1_marilyn-zafuto-bill-ellsworth-original-quake?_s=PM:US

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The Sixth Sense: I Can Hear Earthquakes (seriously)

No seriously… I can. It’s completely bizarre and I won’t promise that it’s for every earthquake but while I lived in California I could hear them coming. It was bizarre. The first time I heard an earthquake it sounded like a large Semi roaring through my quiet neighborhood — 30 seconds later the house would shake.

Initially it freaked me out but then it became a parlor trick.

In 2003 we had a series of small earthquakes that would rattle the house and my boyfriend at the time would be sitting in our living room with another Turkish friend and I would pass through the room saying “Earthquake” – 30 seconds later the house would shake. (I am completely serious…) They would frantically look at each other and I would return to the room and tell them I was a witch.

I could be, but I highly doubt it. It was fun watching them question and worry about it.

I have read about other people hearing the loud Semi truck roaring before an earthquake hits so I don’t feel like I am all alone on this one.

At most, “touched” individuals (I love this expression) could predict a quake was coming 30 seconds prior but nothing more. So who knows if my skills remain in tact but I sure hope I don’t hear a Semi truck any time soon.

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English: A picture of the 2004 tsunami in Ao N...

English: A picture of the 2004 tsunami in Ao Nang, Krabi Province, Thailand. Français : Image montrant le raz-de-marée de 2004 à Ao Nang, en Thaïlande. Italiano: Una fotografia del maremoto dell’Oceano Indiano ad Ao Nang, in Tailandia. Español: Imagen del terremoto del Océano Índico de 2004 en Ao Nang, Tailandia. മലയാളം: 2004-ൽ ഇന്ത്യൻ മഹാസമുദ്രത്തിൽ ഉണ്ടായ സുനാമി, തായ്‌ലാന്റിലെ ആവോ നാങിൽ നിന്നുള്ള ചിത്രം. Myanmasa: ဆူနာမီ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)