Monday, November 06, 2006

Look! Down in the street, it's a heavy truck! No! It's an earthquake!

Last night at 9:34 p.m., I sat complacently on the couch, watching TV while Mama snoozed in her recliner. Suddenly, I heard a sonic-boom sort of sound and the room shook, causing collectibles on the parsons table to shake and rattle. I jumped up, pulled up the blinds on the window at the end of the couch and looked down into the street, hoping I'd see a great big truck stopped right there in street in front of the building. No truck. I quickly walked over behind Mama's recliner, turned off her floor lamp and pulled up that blind so that I could get a look into the street on the side of the building. No truck.

Mama woke up and said, "What are you doing?"
I said, "Did you feel that?"
"You didn't feel that?"
"No, but something woke me up," she said.
"The stuff on the table rattling woke you up, Mama," I told her, frantically wondering if that was an earthquake, was another one, a bigger one, on the way.

I walked to the front door and opened it, to look into the hall and to take a sniff, just in case something had exploded downstairs somewhere. Just after I got the door open, another one opened one door down on the right and a young woman stuck her head out.

"Did you just feel something?" I asked.
"We did. Do you think it was an earthquake?" she asked.
"Honey, I don't know; I'm from Mississippi!"
"We think that's what it was; we're going to turn on the TV," she said, and said that if they discovered anything, she'd come tell me.

I got on the computer and googled the US Geological Survey. Several clicks later, I was on a page about Mount St. Helens, since we can see it from our living room window. On that site I found "seismic information" with a Web site, so I typed it in and found that indeed I'd just experienced my first (and it'd be just fine with me if it's my last) earthquake. Turns out it was a 2.6, 10 miles down, with it's epicenter just over 4 miles away, on the other side of the Willamette River. I went down the hall, knocked on the door, and we talked a bit about how alarmed we were at that point.

No damage, thousands of people responded to the "Did you feel it?" survey at a link on the USGS Web site--I was one of them, answering their questions the best I could. I couldn't get over how my hands, my fingers tingled, like I'd been lightly shocked. What is that about, I wondered?

Well after midnight, I finally fell asleep, trying to concentrate on what the weather was supposed to bring on Monday--loads of rain--trying to forget that utterly strange feeling, that quick yet intense movement.

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