So I was sitting in the Lancaster House on Tuesday knocking out tasks left and right on the computer when the Great Quake of 2011 struck. I’m not proud of what happened next. But I’ve never thought through my earthquake preparedness or response. While I am a volcano survivor, I was simply not prepared for the 5.8 earthquake that hit 3 1/2 hours east of us. I was pretty shaken up…

As I sat at my desk, I was suddenly aware of the the floor shaking. My first thought was Brandon Sexton was in the room. Brandon is a former youth minister for our church, and he has a massive nervous leg. It’s always shaking, and there were several staff meetings when he was present that one of us would say, “Brandon! Be still!”

It wasn’t Brandon. As I looked around confusedly, I saw my bookshelves swaying just a little. It was one church movement I didn’t want. About the time I said out loud, “Uhhhhhh..,”  Cody, whose office is next to mine, said, “Hey! Is your…?” That was almost simultaneous with Intern Jacob saying something like “Hey! The house is shaking!” These are not exact quotes because the whole quake was 20-30 seconds, and it all happened in a blur.

I do remember saying, “I think it’s an earthquake,” almost a second before something fell in the house. At that point, it was time to evacuate, in my mind. It’s an almost 90 year old house, and I didn’t want my 43 year old body taking a short cut to the basement from the second floor.

Jacob and I hit the stairs at a run and were outside in a flash. Cody stayed in the house, huddled in his doorway – I think in the fetal position. Poor little tyke. He said later that he stayed because he remembered an episode of Saved by the Bell which instructed Zach and the Gang to get in a doorway in case of earthquake. My new earthquake philosophy is “Doorway? No way. Get outta the way.”

Jacob and I were caught off guard by what we found outside the house. Joggers blissfully trotting by. Students on bikes heading to class. Traffic. Normality. No one cared that we had barely escaped with our lives. No news crews to interview us and comment on our remarkable escape. Nor were search and rescue prepared to extract Cody’s body from within the church office.

What we learned later was that many folks in our area missed the earthquake. Oh sure, the earth quaked underneath them, but it depended upon where you were, what type of building, etc. as to whether you knew it or not.

As we returned sheepishly to our now non-shaking house, Cody helpfully reported that Facebook had blown up with the fact that it was, indeed, an earthquake.

By the way, on Wednesday morning, I discovered a little damage in my office from the quake. It was what fell. Here’s a pic:

What’s your story about the Great East Coast Quake of 2011?

(By the way, I didn’t take the picture of the lawn furniture above. It’s gone viral since Tuesday. If you know who took it, or where it originated – with the text added – I’d love to hear about it.)


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