The two earthquakes I’ve experienced.

In light of the earthquake that launched a thousand East v West Coasts blood battles this morning, I’ve decided to share with you my two very unexciting experiences with earthquakes.

As I’m sure most people who grew up in Oklahoma can tell you, we are profoundly unprepared for earthquakes. Tornadoes? Got it. Got no basements, but we got preparedness hiding under a mattress in the bathtub down no problem. This always seemed like a fundamental flaw in Oklahoma architecture to me. We’re in the very middle of the self-proclaimed Tornado Alley, but there are no major built-in storm shelters. The ones people buy at the state fair and build in their backyards don’t count here. I’ve been informed that the reason our houses don’t have basements is that the ground is too hard to really dig into and, to grossly misrepresent the details of building a house, it would be hard to dig a basement. I don’t know about you, but I still would prefer to buy a house with a basement when I know that, at any moment between May and September, there is a chance my house could be whisked off to Oz or steamrolled to the ground. Tornadoes are equal opportunity weather – it could happen anywhere to anyone. But I’m getting off-topic.

While we’re massively prepared for tornadoes, we’re massively underprepared for basically any other type of major weather. We had a summer of serious flooding in 2007 (and again in 2008, if memory serves), and since people don’t know what to do, they try to drive into it and end up floating to the side of the interstate. Snow and ice? We’ve had a pretty serious blizzard for at least the past two years now, but because the cold weather storms are so few and far between, there’s no financially sound excuse for investing in a fleet of anti-snow vehicles, for the city or for citizens.

Earthquakes, though, are something we have almost no experience with whatsoever. Or, at least, in the 15 or so years I’ve lived here, I’ve had almost no experience with them. I remember learning in elementary school to sit under a desk or stand in a doorframe if an earthquake should strike, but I’ve never actually had to put that skill to use.

Four years ago when I was on PacRim and in Japan (2007), I lived with a host family and slept in a room on the second floor of their home. I’d wondered if I might experience an earthquake, but didn’t want to expect too much, or for that matter, experience too much. One night, I woke up to a strange feeling – everything was shaking just a little bit. Because it was the middle of the night, I found myself a little confused and overwhelmed. What was happening? After feeling like I was lying in a massage chair for about twenty-seconds-that-felt-like-ten-minutes, I realized it was an earthquake. Obviously it wasn’t a very serious one. Or maybe it was and since I was on the second floor, I missed the real impact. Maybe I’ll never know.

That was my first earthquake. I was glad that I woke up for it, since I tend to sleep through serious weather, and it was fun to talk about on the bus the next morning with Kitty.

My second earthquake was two years ago. I think. Anyway, I was sitting on the couch in my apartment doing some reading for class, and I happened to be in the apartment by myself at the time (a rarity). I remember sitting there, looking up for a second and realizing the ground was shaking. I’ve had this feeling before! I thought, realizing what it was. I immediately tweeted the incident, of course, and watched as tweets from friends and classmates filled my feed. And then, in a matter of seconds, it was over.

And that was it.

For as big of a deal as is made of earthquakes when we’re young (at least in Oklahoma), both experiences were rather underwhelming. Of course I’d rather be underwhelmed than overwhelmed by a natural disaster, but at the same time, I’ve had much more exciting experiences with tornadoes.

Do you have any experiences with earthquakes? Let’s hear them!

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One thought on “The two earthquakes I’ve experienced.

  1. In Oklahoma, it’s not that the ground is too hard for basements but that the water table is too high. Dig down about six feet and seepage begins to fill the area. In recent years waterproofing concrete technology and techniques have improved and more basements are being built that will stand up to the water intrusion. New houses need a basement. Old houses need a state fair storm cellar or safe room.

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