23 Aug

When it comes down to wondering if you are more ‘fight than flight,’ an unexpected 5.8 earthquake firmly cemented that I am pure flight when it comes to natural disasters or office buildings shaking, rattling and rolling at 2pm on a beautiful Tuesday afternoon.

It was a pretty normal day at the office. I was returning to my office from getting water and ran into a co-worker who needed to go over a project budget with me. ‘I just need five minutes,’ so I followed him to his office with my newly filled bottle of water. I had nothing else with me.

We were looking at a spreadsheet when the windows started a strange vibration. Ironically we had been talking about Hurricane Irene and the earthquake in Colorado so when the windows started shaking I jokingly said, ‘maybe that is aftershocks from Colorado.’ Then it stopped. I think we both assumed it was an airplane since we are so close to the airport. Then it started again. Stronger. Louder. Filing cabinet drawers opened. Things fell off shelves. Ceiling tiles fell down. The exit sign came off the ceiling. His whole office moved. It was a surreal moment and I am not sure how long we just stood there watching things fall and rattle and shake.

‘GO! GO!’ was all I remember him saying as he grabbed my arm and we rushed to the stairwell. Flight kicked in. Seriously, I think there was no noise in the office as people walked at race speed to the narrow stairwells. Today, I did not appreciate my 11th floor office. Down the stairs everyone very orderly took the steps at double speed and then the cracks started chasing us down the stairs. The walls were cracking up and down and side to side. Plaster pieces were falling off. The building started to groan. There was no verbal panic among my co-workers but the pace picked up. I think everyone’s flight kicked in at this point.

We all got safely outside and realized the shaking was not isolated to our building as all the buildings near us were flooding people.

We were standing outside in our practiced fire drill spots when it sunk in that this was an earthquake. Also, it sunk in that I had no wallet, keys, iPhone (both work one and personal one), purse or my trusty bottle of water. At least the weather was nice.

It was eerily quiet as the streets filled with people and I began to see more and more of my co-workers. We never did see police cars or fire engines as we stood out there for over an hour. I did use a friends phone and get a text to Kerry telling him I was okay. I was glad to hear he was okay and so was Miss H.

One of my co-workers had purchased a battery powered radio during lunch after watching a news story about preparing for Hurricane Irene this coming weekend so we listened to the reports of evacuations, train shutdowns, airport shutdowns and no major injuries or major damage. But our building and ones around us were still making strange noises.

Our building manager was letting people go in five at a time to get essential items and leave. The prospect of walking home six miles was slightly more appealing than walking back up the 11 flights of stairs in the creaking, groaning and cracking building. However, we were then told the building was going to be closed until further notice so this would be my only opportunity for an undetermined amount of time.

So five of us went back up the stairs and saw more cracks on the walls. Someone even joked that maybe since the building is relatively new construction that it is supposed to do that. We all quickly got our things and returned back down the stairs. Traffic was not so bad and Kerry and Miss H were safely at home.

Miss H actually took a nap today and slept through the whole thing. Kerry’s office had a bad case of the shakes too. But we are all okay and so are family and friends.

Honestly, I was not worried about my things or my car because they can all be replaced. When that flight mode kicked in it was about getting out of the building and making sure Kerry, Miss H, Mom, Leigh, Dad, Kathy and friends were all okay. Everyone is – so all is well!

And we returned to regularly scheduled programming at home with bubbles, Play Dough and mac n’ cheese.


3 Responses to “EARTHQUAKE!”

  1. Dr. Blondie August 24, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    Goodness! This is much more dramatic than what I experienced. I was outside when it began and didn’t feel a thing! Glad you all are okay!


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