Here's a sample of Nisqually earthquake experiences that South Sound residents shared with The Olympian:
Waves of energy were rolling along
I was working in the Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters by the Olympia Farmers Market. It took all of us a few seconds to figure out what was happening, and as it turned out, the roaster was dropping a load of 450-degree beans into the cooling tray when the quake began. I hit the concrete floor and got under a table as fast as possible, as things were starting to fall off shelves and table tops. I watched one of the most amazing things I’d ever seen: Wave after wave, each about 6 inches high, rolling sequentially across the concrete floor, from one end of the building to the other. I was on my hands and knees, surfing these concrete waves. The roastery is a metal building, designed to flex, so I knew I was likely safe from a building collapse, but the sound of everything shaking, including the building, and the lights and heaters that hang from the roof, was nauseating ... a completely unnatural sound. ... No one got hurt, and damage was nearly nonexistent. I’ll never forget it!
Jeff Spring, Tumwater
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Labor brought on by earthquake
I remember the earthquake like it was yesterday! I was eight months pregnant with my second child, and that evening after the quake, I had started having contractions in part due to being so shaken by the experience. My husband took me to the Labor and Delivery Unit at Providence St. Peter Hospital and lo and behold there was a flood of expectant mothers there for the very same reason. I am not sure how many of those resulted in new babies that night, but it was quite a sight!
Jamie McCroy, Rainier
Dilated eyes added to confusion
I was at the optometrist’s. He put drops in my eyes and left the room until they were dilated. I was not immediately startled when the quake began. Having lived for many years in California, I was used to just sitting the smaller ones out. By the time I realized it was not too small, I could hardly cross the swaying room to crouch under a counter. Still, my thought was, “Oh darn. Now I’ll probably have to have my eyes dilated again, I did this for nothing.”
Then the lights went out. The optometrist came in, took my arm and led me down the hall to the parking lot. The other Group Health patients stood around there for quite a while, until someone told us to go home.
I, of course, could not see them very well.
At home, the cat was in the middle of the room, paralyzed with fear, his eyes big as pancakes. Pictures had fallen off the wall all around him. Damage was slight; mostly books and lamps that had hit the floor.
Karen Strand, Lacey
World turned surreal during the quake
I was working as a counselor at Western State Hospital in Steilacoom at the time of the earthquake. I had taken a few patients to the library for an hour of reading, when we first heard a sound that cannot be described. It was beyond an explosion, beyond thunder, and then the shaking started. I knew that we were in one of the oldest buildings on campus. The library was situated on the second floor, built above an amphitheater. So, in my mind, I knew it would be a death-defying fall if the floor were to collapse. My instincts ran past the “duck and cover” and I started to run out of the building, thinking it would be safer outside.
I made it all the way to the front door of the building, looked out the door and saw this huge oak tree swaying to almost horizontal dimensions. The world outside seemed so surreal. In a split second, I decided I needed to turn around and go back to the library and “duck and cover” with my patients. I crawled under the table with my patients and we rode the experience out together. The building was just fine, but we were deeply affected.
I have an emergency preparedness kit at home, but the thing I really took away from the earthquake was, cherish all the special people in your life, every single day. Appreciate your happiness and health, for you never know when Mother Nature will come a calling again.
Amy Frederick, Olympia