Tuesday, August 26, 2014

When the ground shakes.....

It was in the wee hour of the morning on Sunday and I was fast asleep. I was tired after spending the past two days moving my daughter back to college for her senior year. The night before I purposely turned off my alarm, and I didn't think anything could possibly wake me, but I was wrong.

Suddenly, I was awoken from my slumber by the ground shaking violently beneath my bed as a rumbling roar broke through the early morning stillness. The next thing I knew, I was curled up in a fetal position and my husband was covering my body protectively with his own. We waited anxiously for it to end, but mere seconds turned into what seemed like minutes.

The last earthquake of that magnitude was the 1989 Loma Prieta that tipped the richter scale at 6.9. Although, that earthquake was more of a gentle roll than the jolting force of the 6.0 quake that hit us Sunday morning.

Despite the early hour of the morning, which was more like the middle of the night, neighbors began filing out of their homes. I remember the excited little boy from next door asking eagerly if we felt it? His adrenaline was flowing as he ran about outside in his pajamas. Neighbors called to one another from their yards inquiring if everyone was alright, if they needed anything, and began exchanging stories of the moment. None of us knew the impact the force Mother Nature had just dealt our city or our neighbor to the north.

After conversations dwindled and the cold forced us all back into our homes, it was impossible for us to go back to sleep. We searched the internet and the news, but it was too early for anything to be to reported. Not wanting to deal with the mess in our home, we turned on the television and watched a movie to distract us.

When the news finally broke, the damage on our city slowly began to roll in. The images portrayed on my blog are pictures I found on Google that depict both Vallejo and Napa, the areas hit hardest by the quake.

Because of my work, my husband and I piled into the car when it finally became light enough to really assess any damages. As we traveled around town looking at the different properties, we were amazed by all the glass storefronts that had been shattered, the police presence keeping looters at bay, and the plywood quickly being installed to cover the gaping holes that left the buildings vulnerable to intruders. It was an extremely surreal feeling. It was the first time I had experienced my town in this type of predicament.

We stopped by our favorite neighborhood restaurant and were greeted with the buzz of excitement from the crowded standing-room-only patrons. We quickly left. It was the same all about town. Everyone was out and the air itself vibrated with nervous chatter.

It wasn't until later that afternoon that my husband and I decided to cruise some of the nearby neighborhoods around my office. We were shocked by our discovery. In one small, square area we counted 27 chimneys that were structurally damaged or completely down altogether, including our local community center's chimney.

As we finally went home to tackle the clean-up of our own dwelling, we felt incredibly blessed and lucky. Our home did not suffer any structural damage and our losses were restricted to a few broken dishes and collectibles. We mainly had things tossed around the house and a bit of a mess that needed tidying. Again, we are thankful and grateful because we know there were so many who suffered major damage to their homes and businesses.

There were those extremely unfortunate souls whose homes were completely destroyed due to fire in Napa, a family of three that are in critical condition because of a falling chimney, and so many more stories that are being revealed on the daily news programs.

I know that in our own town many buildings have been red-tagged until their structural integrity can be confirmed and caution tape is strung to warn pedestrians of these dangers. I urge everyone to heed these warning signs. They are there for a reason: to prevent further injury to the city's citizens.

As you go about your day, do not forget to be thankful. Yes, the devastation has hit our city harder than any other natural disaster I can recall in our past—or at least in mine—but cities can rebuild. A city is built on the determination of its community. Glass can be replaced, masonry re-built, structures retrofitted or replaced, but it is the people that breathe life into a city.

Be thankful. Be supportive. Be determined. Tomorrow is another day and we will enter it with a smile and a purposeful step.

Wishing you all the best,

K. Lamb