|The Viaduct - Seattle's 'Grill'|
It has been said that you always remember your first time. I'm no exception. Exactly 10 years ago today, at about 11:00 in the morning I was sitting in the 5th floor of an old Seattle office building when the earth moved under my feet. Literally.
As I sat there, the ground began to rumble and the building swayed noticeably back and forth while books and pictures fell off of shelves on the wall. I looked up, glanced over at my supervisor at the time and proclaimed rather nonchalantly "Whoa, it's an earthquake". All this happened as I smiled and absorbed what was taking place, not one bit phased by it.
That comprised the first 10-15 seconds of what became known as The Nisqually Quake, named for the region 30 miles away from Seattle which was the epicenter. This quake was a shallow quake which measured a significant 6.8 magnitude on the Richter Scale and did considerable damage to a number of old buildings and other structures in the vicinity. Thankfully, giving it's distance from the city there were no deaths attributed to the quake.
After that initial 15 seconds where I realized what was happening, the violent shaking continued for another 30 seconds. It's truly amazing how long 45 seconds can seem when it's in the middle of an earthquake. More amazing still is the lack of concern I demonstrated during and after the incident. In reality I was much more phased by the normally 20 minute commute which turned into 4 hours, that I experienced on my way to work the next day. It's funny how that is what actually stressed me out back then.
Now, 10 years to the day since that quake, I am certain that I would react in a much different way if it were to happen again. First, the reason for the 4 hour commute was because the state had shut down The Alaskan Way Viaduct, an elevated highway which runs for a few miles along Seattle's waterfront. The viaduct was damaged during the quake and ever since there has been a plan to tear it down before another quake takes it down. That will happen in the next couple of years. I drive that elevated highway each morning with Lukas on our way to preschool, and each morning at the back of my mind I am slightly fearful of another fatefully timed shaking of the earth. The views from that road are stunning, but it certainly is a long way down.
I have even heard it reported that a similar quake centered along the Seattle Fault line - long overdue for a quake - would claim the lives of an estimated 2000 people and cause billions of dollars in damage. That thought now gives me considerable pause.
It's 10 years later and I am a father now. It's 10 years later and I'm certain that given another rumble similar to The Nisqually Quake, I wouldn't be smiling. I would be concerned for the welfare of Mrs. LIAYF, and more so of Lukas. Thankfully his daycare is just a few short blocks from where I work, in a one story structure.
Even hurtling debris, I'm sure I could be there in just a few short minutes.
How about you readers? What natural disaster do you fear the most?