26 August 2014

American Canyon Earthquake

To folks who inquired about the earthquake that occurred early Sunday morning in American Canyon and how I am doing, thanks for asking. Stillsong Hermitage is located in the East Bay, that IS the Eastern portion of the SF Bay Area. The earthquake's epicenter was in American Canyon, a few miles from Napa which is in the North Bay. However, here at Stillsong the motion was certainly felt. It was strong and seemed to last quite a while (about 10-15 seconds). It was also more of a rolling motion than a sharp jolt --- though I guess it could have been a jolt that first awakened me.

Others at Mass Sunday morning described something similar and a couple of us wished we had thought to begin counting to see how long the quake lasted! While Napa experienced a lot of damage, especially in masonry facades, chimneys and infrastructure there was no damage here at all. Nothing fell from shelves (though my book shelves are so packed nothing moved in the Loma Prieta quake either and that was a MUCH stronger quake). Here the only sign of the quake afterwards was that the melted wax in the presence lamp sloshed enough to put the candle out --- a reminder of how safe these are in regard to fire dangers!

My cat, Clancy, was asleep with me and, while he was awake and alert during the shaking, he did not freak out. I don't know if he was awake just before the quake --- alerted by his little kitty earthquake radar. He did go outside afterwards to scope things out but returned about an hour later. Unlike many of us though, he went back to sleep! (Most of the folks I spoke to had difficulty getting back to sleep even though few said they felt much anxiety from the quake.) Aftershocks will continue for some time (a week or so). There was a significant one this morning, but unless you were already dealing with structural damage that could be exacerbated by more movement it caused no problems.

Nicolas was asleep on mattress
One of the really awful stories coming out of the quake though is the story of two friends asleep side by side in one of their living rooms. The guest was asleep on the couch while his best friend, Nicolas, was asleep on the floor nearby. When the quake hit, the fireplace and chimney in the room crumbled and fell on him. He had tried to crawl away but was still caught. Nicolas suffered multiple pelvic fractures and it has been reported that it will be months before he walks again.

But awful as these injuries are what most moved me was an interview with his overnight guest --- the friend who got the couch instead of the floor and was uninjured when the bricks fell. (Sorry, I don't have his name!) Clearly he loves Nicolas and was terribly sorry Nick had been injured. His pain for his friend was visible and palpable. But he is also a survivor in this and is apt to be feeling terribly guilty he was unhurt while his friend bore the brunt of things. I was very impressed with him even as I felt real concern for him and the degree of trauma he had experienced. I hope he is given any help he needs to deal with his friend's injuries and his own coming through things physically unscathed. Certainly he will be in my prayers.

But again, here at Stillsong all is very well. Thanks again for asking.