Saturday, August 27, 2011

Shake, Rattle, and Aloha -- An Earthquake Tale

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

When an earthquake rattled the East Coast this week, it made me think about my own experiences with having "the earth move." The DH and I are native Californians who have never lived anywhere but the Golden State. Given California's reputation with regard to earthquakes, the two of us have lots of stories to tell about quakes, right?


DH has never been in a major earthquake, and the only one I was ever in happened when I was six-months-old (which hardly counts). In fact, these two old Californians had to go all the way to Hawaii to experience an earthquake first hand!

We are very lucky because we live where it is easy to find inexpensive deals to Hawaii. Such was the case one recent October when a travel agency we've often used offered a five day trip to Honolulu, and we decided to go for it. Our high rise hotel was in a GREAT location, across the street from the Honolulu Zoo and half a block from the beach. The views from our ninth story room were wonderful -- we could see all the way to Diamond Head.

Sunday morning at 7 a.m. I was awakened from a sound sleep by the bed shaking. Thinking the DH had returned from his morning swim and was playing a game of 'let's wake up the slug', I rolled over ready to yell at him but NO DH. Instead, I heard a very loud roar, while the bed and the room both started to sway!

I may have never been in an earthquake before but I KNEW what was happening. I threw some clothes on over my pajamas while the room continued to sway. Then I grabbed my umbrella (Did I mention it was pouring rain?) and RAN down all nine flights of stairs to the lobby!

I had a friend who was trapped in an elevator for four hours during the Loma Prieta quake in 1989 so there was NO WAY I was getting in an elevator, though that stairwell was pretty icky. I'm just glad we weren't on the eighteenth floor.

When I reached the lobby, huffing and puffing like a steam locomotive, I saw a lot of bleary-eyed people milling about. An emergency generator was already set up to run one elevator and some lights. Staff also had turned on a battery powered radio and I listened anxiously for about ten minutes for news of death, destruction, and... a tsunami!

All I heard was that one power grid had gone down and in doing so, had triggered overloads on all the power grids so electricity was out all over the island. Also, that the quake had been centered off the Big Island, not Oahu. And NO tsunami.

I couldn't quite believe that last part, and worse -- DH was still out there SWIMMING IN THE OCEAN! I walked out to the front sidewalk and peered through the sheets of rain. Finally, I decided if he didn't show up in five more minutes, I'd go looking for him. Two minutes later he walked up, towel around his shoulders, dripping wet. He headed straight for the elevator and couldn't understand why all those people were standing around in the lobby. When I mentioned THE EARTHQUAKE, he gave me a blank stare.

He hadn't felt a thing!

Luckily the only consequence of the earthquake turned out to be no power in Honolulu for thirteen hours. Inconvenient, yes. No cooked food, no air conditioning, no running water above the third floor... But in the grand scheme of things, it wasn't that bad! We spent most of the day sitting on the lanai of the Hawaiian Princess hotel, which was right on the beach and had a lovely breeze.

I give the highest kudos to the Honolulu police, who were out directing traffic within 30 minutes of the quake knocking out the power. Officers were stationed at every traffic light down the length of Waikiki, and they stayed until the power came back on at 8 P.M. As the electricity was restored to each high rise hotel along Waikiki, a cheer went up from the patrons inside. Ours was no exception.

By the time we flew home on Tuesday morning, everything on Oahu (the airport, the roadways, the tourist attractions) was running as smoothly as it had been before the quake hit.

So there you have my earthquake tale, now it's your turn: Did you feel the quake this week? Have you been in another earthquake? If not, do you have a 'wild weather' experience you can share?


Helen said...

Is he coming to my place

have Fun

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Yes, ONE CHOOK for you, Helen! I hope you have a LARGE supply of TimTams! ;-)


Helen said...

Well yes I do have Tim Tams but I am sure there will be none left once he has departed LOL he can help do some housework for them though so as I can read.

That must have been scary Aunty Cindy I felt an earthquake once when I was about 14 years old 3 of my girlfriends were staying over at my place for the weekend and we were all asleep in the lounge room about 300am we all suddenly sat up and said what was that it was just a shaking sensation nothing major but we all felt it Muma and Dad came out of there room to see what had happened it wasn't till around 7-00am when Dad put the radio on that we found out what had happened a very small earthquake no damage thank heavens unlike the one that hit Newcastle in the 80's that destryed property and lives were lost. Newcastle is about 3 hours drive away from Sydney so not much was felt around here.
I am sure there are going to be some interesting stories.
To any friends living in the path of Irene stay safe I am thinking of you

Have Fun

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...


My middle name is Irene, so I'm sure they named the storm after me. ;-)

I've felt a few little shakes here in California, Helen. But NOTHING major until that one in Hawaii. Luckily nobody on Oahu was injured.

wishing I had some TimTams

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Helen.

Hey Aunty Cindy,
I experienced my first earthquake this week. It was surreal. I've been to San Fran and Hawaii, but I never thought to expect an earthquake in my hometown. It seems like Irene is heading straight for us. This is the first time we've seen mandatory evacuations in some parts of the city.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hope you weren't too shook up by the earthquake.

STAY SAFE and DRY until my hurricane passes you by!


Kaelee said...

Oh poor Chook. He was tired after he got to Canada from Fiji and now he's off to Australia. Helen, I'm glad you have Tim Tams as he arrived to a house without any chocolate at all and he spent the day roosted on my china cabinet to stay out of my two cats way. I must say he was disappointed in our liquor cabinet as there was only a bottle of Sambucca there. He did okay at supper time as he shared a beer or two. It was so lovely having him but he's probably eaten all your Tim Tams by now as he was starving for chocolate.

Kaelee said...

I've never been in an earthquake or a hurricane. The most extreme weather I've ever been in is hail storms and blizzards.

I hope everyone on the Atlantic seaboard stays safe. I've been to Nassau and I didn't like what Irene did there.

marybelle said...

I live in Toowoomba, QLD AUSTRALIA: in January of this year a massive flash flood - at least 8 metres, tore through our town. It was horrific. Lives were lost, especially when the water made it's way down the Range to Grantham virtually wiping the town off the map. The Creek runs along the bottom of my street & we could not believe that it rose from 2 feet to 8 metres in 7 minutes.

Sheree said...

I experienced my first earthquake when I was a teen and visiting LA. Like Aunty Cindy, I was in bed asleep at the time. I woke up slowly and rather peeved because I was wondering who would want me awake that badly. Then I realized that my younger cousins were screaming about standing in doorways. I opened my eyes to see the backyard moving. By the time I was fully awake, the quake was over. Other than that, I've only experienced small earthquakes, some of which I could only tell by the way my fishtank water was sloshing.

My first memory of my younger sister was her crying during a hurricane (she was scared and I thought she was being stupid because our parents and relatives were all there and I had faith in them). Then there was the time my mother shepherded us little kids across a flooded street (no moving water so we were safe to cross, more or less). There was also a blackout and the ensuing riot. All those events happened before I was 11. So, even with the earthquake and the upcoming hurricane, I have the utmost confidence that my parents will be able to weather the whole thing ably, giving their grandcildren the same faith I had in them when I was a child.

Birgit said...

I've been in an earthquake several years ago while there were renovations going on at our apartment complex. The first one was early in the morning and I was woken to things rattling on shelves and the room swaying - nothing was broken or damaged, but some furniture literally moved. There was another one around noon, not quite as bad, when there was a worker on the scaffolding outside ... the poor soul jumped on my balcony (I'm on the third floor) to save himself ... the scaffolding didn't collapse, but I can imagine what it must have felt like standing on it when everything started to sway.
BTW earthquakes are a pretty rare occurrence in Austria!

barb said...

thanks for bringing GR down for a cuppa Helen, he was a bit high on tim tams LOL

I remember the Newcastle earthquake ... I just fely a little tremor but not much.... as far as earthquakes go there are very few here but floods, cyclones and fires are a different thing...but luckily were I live we are not too affected by them

Kim in Hawaii said...

Aloha! No doubt the GR thinks he'll experience an earthquate the next time he visits me!

I've lived in Hawaii since September 09 - we've been through two tsunami warnings but not earthquakes or even hurricanes. The kama'aina (residents) on Kauai still talk about Hurrican Iniki which slammed the island as a Category 4 on September 11, 1992.

This hurricane is "blamed" for the feral chickens on Kauai - supposedly all the coops were smashed open and the chickes escapted. Hmmm ... maybe GR will return after all!

Antonia said...

I've been in some earthquakes, but most of them were too weak to be felt or cause any damage. And it helps that once I fall asleep I sleep like the dead.

One earthquake was longer than the others and I felt it (I was awake, go figure). My mother was terrified, and my dad and I laugh at her reactions to this day. Horrible of us, I know, but she was acting like it was the end of the world.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Helen, he's coming down under? Batten down the Aussie hatches!

Aunty Cindy, what an amazing story. Laughing at your DH not feeling a thing! I've actually been in a very small earthquake when we lived on the farm. I would have been about 11, I suppose. Australia, luckily, is very stable geologically (although Newcastle near where Annie West lives has had a bad earthquake in living memory). If you go down to New Zealand, it's VERY unstable. Those poor people in Christchurch are still doing it hard, I've heard, and a lot of the houses are completely unsalvageable. A friend of mine has relatives there who have been living in their lounge room for the last six months. The rest of the house is basically unsafe to set foot in. Scary stuff.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I felt it, I was at work, in an office located UNDER a parking building. That place cleared within 2 minutes of the rumble. No one was right for the rest of the day.

catslady said...

I live in Pittsburgh and apparently a lot of people felt the quake. I wasn't one of them though. I guess I was downstairs. We have a lot of trucks that go rattling down our hill and maybe I could have thought that's what it was. So I guess I'm glad I've never been in a quake but it would have been interesting to have felt the little one we got.

jo robertson said...

Great, timely topic, Cindy! I hope all our east coast folks and family are weathering the storm out. My daughter's family in New Jersey are not being evacuated, but they're looking for relatives to stay with "just in case."

I've experienced several earthquakes. Are you telling me you didn't feel the Oakland one a few years ago, AC. The tremors are slight because we're several hundred miles inland, but I still felt it.

One earthquake (the Coalinga-- spelling???) made our water bed wave so the kids had lots of fun watching that!

Christie Kelley said...

I'm not sure what the mid-Atlantic did to annoy Mother Nature but two nature disasters in a week is more than enough. I had experienced a few tremors before Tuesday's quake but nothing like the shaking that day.

I work on the second floor of a building with a warehouse at the back. When anyone walks with a heavy foot behind my cube, I can feel the floor shake a little. So on Tuesday when things started, the floor shook. Finally the woman who sits next to me spoke up and said, "Who's doing what back there?"

Just as she said that, the quake really got worse. Everything started shaking and we all stood up and looked at each other. Everyone's first thought was a plane crash (did I say I worked directly across the street from Baltimore-Washington airport?). Finally, someone said, "I think it's an earthquake." And we ran out of the building.

It was a beautiful day to stand outside and wait while the maintenance people checked the building. But they had closed down the cell traffic so I could only text my college age son. No phone calls were going through.

When I arrived home I found a few books and things knocked down but no real damage.

As far as Irene...she's just starting to kick in here. It's been raining since 11am but now the wind is picking up. The worst part of all this week...I came home last night and discovered my refrigerator was dying. It's dead now and they can't deliver a new one until sometime Monday(depending on the storm damage). Ugh...

Pat Cochran said...

Hi, Aunty,

Never have felt an earthquake, although
the seismograph at Rice University here
recorded a small quake at 3:00 am on one day back in the 1980s/1990s. As for wild weather, living on the Gulf Coast it is a given that one would have experienced some such! Major ice storms to floods to tornadoes to hurricanes, the choice is yours! Our last major event: Hurricane Ike in
2008. The family slept as I listened
to the droning sound of the tornado
that took down part of my pecan tree
and barely missed our house. We lost
all power and were without A/C for
13 days. We've been praying that the
hurricane gods will stay away from
us during the horrendous temperatures
of this summer. I just checked for the
current temps: it's currently 107 with
a "feels like" of 110!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Everyone,
Sorry to be MIA but I've been at my local RWA chapter meeting today.

Kaelee, glad you didn't have a lot of chocolate or liquor for the GR to indulge.

I guess the poor Caribbean islands get hit a lot. Our first Caribbean cruise, we stopped at Grand Turk in the Turk and Caicos islands. A few months later the pier and all the shops where we docked was wiped out by a hurricane. :-(

Two years ago when we were in Grenada, they were still rebuilding from a hurricane that had hit two seasons before. YIKES!

I'll take my chances with earthquakes.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Wow Sheree, that is SOME memory, being ushered across the street to take shelter from a hurricane!

My grandmother was only 5 when her mother died, but her one clear memory of her was during a tornado. My Gramma remembered her mother carrying one baby on her hip, holding my Gramma's hand. Gramma's older brother held her other hand and they all 4 ran across the street to the neighbor who had a cellar. Again, quite a memory!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I had NO IDEA they had earthquakes in Austria! So glad that workman made it safely onto your balcony. Three floors is quite a nasty drop!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Barb,
You are Helen spoil that chook WAY TOO MUCH! :-P

Floods and fires scare me waay more than earthquakes. Matter of fact, in the infamous San Francisco earthquake of 1906 most of the damage was actually done by fires that people carelessly started after the quake!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I think this particular earthquake happened in 2007. Interestingly enough, it was NOT caused by volcanic activity like most Hawaiian quakes. This was good old plate tectonics, just like our California variety earthquakes. ;-)


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

2 feet to over 24 feet in 7 minutes is SCARY!!! I'm glad you were okay.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Thanks for dropping by today, Antonia!

I think a lot of people are like your mom and PANIC at the first sign of shaking. I will admit after the 1989 earthquake where part of the Bay Bridge (between Oakland and San Francisco) collapsed, the next few times I drove over that bridge, I was nervous. :-P


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Fo,
Yes I'm afraid my DH can be rather oblivious. He once slept through a fire alarm and the arrival (sirens, lights, the works) of a fire truck outside our hotel window!

Yes, poor NZ is right on the edge of one tectonic plate. I saw in the museum in Wellington that Christchurch sits DIRECTLY ON TOP of where one plate meets another! YIKES! Not good planning on the part of those founding fathers.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Glad you and all your co-workers were fine, if a little rattled. ;-) I'll bet a few of them are never 'quite right' if your office is anything like most I've worked in. LOL!


jo robertson said...

Avidly watching the news about the storm in the east. No mandatory evac for Jersey City, so my family's playing it my ear.

I remember being very young when Hurrican Hazel stormed through Virginia. It may have been my youth, but I was scared to death! Outside our house, downed power lines were whipping maniacally like crazy snakes!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

We used to live right in the flight path of an air force base and the planes regularly rattled the windows and dishes. One night I was watching the news and learned we'd had an earthquake early in the afternoon. I didn't feel a thing, or if I did, I thought it was just another jet. :-)


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Jo!

Glad your family in Jersey is safe. I hope that means mine are too.

Nope, didn't feel the 1989 quake because I was driving home from work when it hit. I distinctly remember the disc jockey on the radio saying, "Whoa, I think we just had an earthquake!" because I thought, "He really shouldn't joke about something like that." When I got home, I learned it was NO JOKE!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Christie,
Sorry to hear about your fridge. :-( GEEZ, woman! That's now THREE things you've had happen this week. ENOUGH ALREADY!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Oh Pat!
NO Air conditioning for THIRTEEN DAYS?!?! I was complaining after 12 HOURS! :-P

I hope the hurricanes all pass you by this season. The heat wave you all have suffered through is enough for one summer!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Thanks to everyone who stopped by today and shared "natural disaster" stories!

To all our lovely Banditas and BB in the path of Irene -- STAY SAFE!!!



hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...
Glad you and all your co-workers were fine, if a little rattled. ;-) I'll bet a few of them are never 'quite right' if your office is anything like most I've worked in. LOL!

this is true Aunt Cindy, unfortunately I am most times counted among the not quite right.....ROFL

Nancy said...

Helen, congrats on the bird!

Cindy, what a vacation story! Glad everything turned out okay.

I did feel last week's quake. Pictures rattled on the walls, and the house swayed for a few seconds.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

HUGS, Dianna!

Here in the Lair, we think you are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!

Nancy, thanks for popping by. Hope everything is okay in your neck o' the woods!