July 31, 2008

I feel the earth move under my feet

So we had an earthquake a couple of days ago here. It wasn't a big one, 5.4 (considered "moderate") but it also wasn't that far from Anaheim so we definitely felt it. I was at work building bears when it hit. A seasoned veteran of earthquakes, I knew instantly what it was. Primarily because it initially felt like a large tractor-trailer or train going by, but I happen to be intimately familiar with the layout of Downtown Disney and there's no way our building could be affected by traffic, so any building movement can only be an earthquake (or I suppose a large explosion somewhere nearby, but that would be accompanied by an even more obvious noise).

At any rate, the building started to shake and then continued to shake. This one was a roller, not a jolter--that is, you felt like you were rolling up and down instead of being jolted from side to side. Nothing was damaged in the store--some displays fell down and some of our recessed lighting jiggled free from their canisters (but did not break). Shortly after the quake we were given the order to evacuate by Disney Security so we all filed out of the store in an orderly manner. Except for the customer who argued with me about not taking the elevator. Um, hello? Earthquakes are followed by aftershocks, and do you want to be stuck in an elevator in an aftershock? No? Me either.

Perhaps the most interesting phenomenon of the event was the fact that nobody's cell phones worked afterwards. It wasn't a matter of the towers going down (in fact, nothing collapsed in this quake), but rather that literally thousands of people at Disneyland all attempted to use their cell phones at precisely the same time. Interestingly enough, the cell phone outage actually causes significantly more panic and anxiety than the actual shaking. People were like, "Yeah, the building started to move and OH MY GOD MY CELL PHONE DOESN'T WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Disney Security checked out everyone building-by-building, which lead to some frustrated and grumpy customers who pointed across the street and three buildings down and said, "Why are they open but you aren't?" Um, does it look like our building is connected to that one? Don't you want to be sure the building is safe before you take your children back inside? However, for the most part people were very calm, orderly, and good-natured about it. I think it really helped that there was no visible damage (or bodily injury) anywhere. If you hadn't actually felt the shaking, you never would have known there was an earthquake.

As for me, I can honestly say that earthquakes of this size just don't bother me this much. For one, it wasn't that big. Yes, it was big enough to get your attention, but on the whole, not that large (as evidenced by the lack of damage to pretty much everything, even at the epicenter). It doesn't help that I gauge all of my earthquake fear based on the Landers quake in 1992. The Landers quake is the biggest earthquake ever to get zero attention. It was a very large 7.3 quake but it hit in the middle of the desert so there was very little damage (in comparison, the Loma Prieta quake that collapsed the Bay Bridge in 1989 was a smaller 6.9). Californians may recall its more memorable younger brother, the 6.7 Big Bear quake that hit a couple of hours later. At any rate, I happened to be working at Girl Scout camp during the Landers quake, and our camp happened to be essentially sitting right next door to the epicenter so we got the full impact. Now THAT was an earthquake. That was a leap out of bed, pull on your shoes, run for the kids' cabins, and trip and fall because the ground was buckling beneath you earthquake. That was an "Oh my god, are those trees actually bending???" earthquake. That was a makes you jumpy for months earthquake.

So basically, my earthquake measuring bar is pretty high.

Posted by Shelby at July 31, 2008 03:13 PM

Funny you mentioned the Landers quake. Nobody seemed to have made a real big deal out of that one but I CLEARLY remember that one and it is the only quake that REALLY scared the SH** out of me!!!!!!

I honestly thought that was the quake that was going to kill me.

Posted by: Katrina at August 1, 2008 07:53 PM

OMG! The Lander's quake! I FORGOT about it! As I recall, I DID pull on my shoes, run outside, and fall down. I mean, Wanish is not all that level, so I might have fallen down anyway....It was a huge jolt.

Posted by: Sherri at August 4, 2008 11:30 AM
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