Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that we had an earthquake here on the East Coast today. It was a 5.9… barely enough to raise an eyebrow in places like California that experience them all the time. But for us East-Coasters… well, it was the biggest quake experienced here since 1944. There’s a major novelty effect for us. Plus, apparently it struck close to the surface, so it was felt pretty far away. Epicenter Virginia; reports were coming in about people feeling it as far north as Toronto.
I was at my desk, when allasudden the building shook, as if it had been struck by something, or a jet had passed by in close proximity, catching us in its wake. I felt it as two tremors, right on top of each other.
Around me, no one said anything. I started to wonder if I’d imagined it. I walked into my boss’ office and asked her. She was sitting there, motionless, trying to figure out what she’d just felt. Within a few minutes, instant messages were coming in from other locations: Did you feel that? What was that?!? Twitter had the scoop a bit before the news, but not by much.
There was no damage where I am. But it does give pause, when we stop to consider that the building I work in is notoriously poorly made, on top of the lack of earthquake-ready construction in general out here. But we were fine. Not everyone even felt it.
This wasn’t my first earthquake. My first earthquake woke me from a sound sleep, in a hotel in Central America. The bed was shaking, and at first I just felt out of time and out of sorts, like a dream. But it continued as I came awake, and I remembered the tour guide mentioning that quakes are common there. I laid there, wondering what I was supposed to do. Probably I should have checked to find out what the evacuation process was, as soon as I checked in. But (1) who ever does that? and (2) it’s unlikely I’d have understood it, since it would have been in Spanish. I listened for sounds of alarm of any kind, heard none, and fell back to sleep.
In the morning, a bunch of us compared notes about the earthquake. The locals, and the Californians, had not even noticed it.
So, yeah. I get that from a lot of angles, our little earthquake hardly counts. But for us it did.