Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Rock and roll - We’re back in Rumbletown!

We've been back home in SoCal for less than three weeks but have already gotten that familiar welcome mat called a trembler. Yesterday and today Yorba Linda had 2 moderate shakers. Rock and roll, dudes, we're home!

The first earthquake I remember feeling was back in the 80s. I was sitting on the carpet in my bedroom late at night when it felt like the house started rolling down the street. I looked out the window and realized we weren't going anyplace. My first thought was that I was overly-tired and really needed to go to bed. Then I realized it was an earthquake. They don't always shake like TV shows and movies portray. Sometimes, when you're far enough away from the epicenter and depending on the direction of the waves, they roll into town. It's an odd feeling and one I'll never forget.

The next trembler I remember feeling was a much bigger deal. It was 1987 and I was on location for an early morning TV shoot when everything started shaking. One of our assistant directors screamed, "Run!" She took off to the open area, since we were outside, and the rest of us followed, locals moving a lot slower than our spooked AD. One of the crew members was in a bathroom trailer at the time and got mad because he thought someone was playing a joke on him. I still laugh about that. On and off the rest of the day, we experienced aftershocks that caused shooting delays. That was the Whittier-Narrows, a 5.9 on the Richter. Aftershocks hit for several days after and I remember being jolted awake a couple of times then things settled down.

There were several smaller quakes over the years but it was pretty quiet in my little beach town. Until 1992 when the Landers quake hit. This one was strong - a 7.3 - but short, lasting just a couple of seconds. It made the place jump then rumble and woke me up. I'm sure we had aftershocks but I really don't remember them. The quake I remember best hit us in 1994. Epicenter located in Northridge, it literally threw us out of bed at 4:31 in the morning. I'll never forget that time. I narrowly missed smacking into the wall. We stumbled around, trying to get our balance and get downstairs to where our birds were freaking out. We hadn't installed the handrail yet so we didn't dare try to maneuver the stairs until the shaking stopped. We had just got our birds calmed down when the first aftershock hit and it was a shaker. Several videos were tossed onto the floor from our bookshelf, pictures hung askew, and there was a crack in one of the corners, but we were lucky.

After things settled a bit and we got the electricity on to watch the TV news, I turned to hubby and said, "So what do you think? Six point oh?"
He nodded. "At least."
That's a bit of an inside joke for Cali residents, as we always try to relieve tension by guessing the magnitude. I think it helps us cope with the adrenaline rush and makes us feel more a part of what's happening rather than being just victims.

Unfortunately, like most big quakes, Northridge caused a few deaths. We had building and freeway collapses around SoCal, but since it hit so early in the morning, it could've been worse. Hard to believe, I know. But if that one had hit during rush hour, we would have seen a lot more injuries and deaths.

I was also doing a theatre production in Burbank at that time and the cast and crew who lived near the epicenter didn't fare as well hubby and I did. I think there was a minor injury among them but no one got seriously hurt, thankfully. One of the aftershocks hit when I was one of just two people at the theatre the next evening. I was walking through the costume area when everything started to shake. I called out to the other person to make sure they were following, then got outside and away from the building immediately. In that part of town there are a lot of old brick structures and those are usually the first to go down in a quake. The last place you want to be when the earth starts shaking. That was the last aftershock I remember experiencing, but I woke up every morning at 4:31 for about six months after that quake.

In 1998, hubby and I moved to AZ, where we never felt anything shake unless it was from thunder. Fourteen years later, we're living in SoCal again. The first night we were here, I woke up and looked at the clock. It read 4:31. All was quiet. I shook my head, knowing exactly the reason, and went back to sleep. Yesterday, a 4.4 hit Yorba Linda. And again this morning they got another shaker. Yep, we're back home in Rumbletown.

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