Note: Just last night we had an earthquake of a 4.5 magnitude. We could definitely feel the shaking and rattling of a few things around the house, but nothing fell off the walls; no damage to report. But it scared me and I was just waiting for the SLAM!SLAM!SLAM! to begin.
January 17, 1994, 4:31 a.m.: SLAM! SLAM! SLAM! SLAM! SLAM! SLAM!
We were jolted awake and tossed around like a giant shaking gerbils in a shoe box. I bolted upright in our bouncing bed and screamed at the top of my lungs like a woman in the throes of terror. The bookshelf leapt onto the bed and gashed Claire's leg. Out of utter panic and ignorant ignorance, we leapt up and careened out of control through the apartment into the girls' bedroom. Hilary was on the floor, and Amelia was in her walk-in closet/bedroom, covered in blankets and pillows that had fallen on her. I stuck my hands into the darkness of her crib, calling, "Amelia???" She gurgled a response, we let out sighs of relief, and dashed out across the broken glass, dishes, and furniture into the cold, early morning January darkness.
We waited on the steps of our new three story apartment building, wondering to ourselves if we had overreacted. To us, it felt like The Big One. But was it really just one of those tremors that these Californians had become accustomed to, rolling over and going back to sleep?
Moments passed, and slowly people began coming outside, wrapped in blankets, warm jackets, some even in shoes. We had only our pajamas. Claire was wearing only a long t-shirt, but to her dismay, no underwear. Yes, no underwear. The ground continued trembling, resending terror down our spines with each loud aftershock.
What? Oh, you're stuck on the Claire not wearing any underwear thing? Well, luck would have it that the night before she had become ill with the Beijing flu that was going around that year. She has fever, chills, and nausea, plus she was so weak she could hardly walk. She took a shower, pulled on a t-shirt and fell into bed, wet hair and all.
As we waited for some news and something else to happen, Claire began to get more and more cold and uncomfortable. She begged me to go back in the still trembling building to grab her a blanket, so I dashed in just as another aftershock hit, which scared the willies out of me. I seized the comforter off of the bed and ran back outside.
As the sun came up, we heard on someone's radio that the earthquake we had just experienced was not The Big One.
"What??!!!" I whined. "How could that have not been The Big One?"
As our apartment was rendered uninhabitable, we slept in the park that night, feeling the ground underneath our backs continually shifting, trying to find a position in which to rest.
We were so unprepared for this earthquake. We had zero cash and less that a quarter of a tank of gas in the car. All we had in the refridgerator was chocolate pudding and a small turkey ham. So after borrowing some money from a neighbor, we got in the car and fled back to Utah.
We left the following scenes behind us, wondering if we would be returning.