Hien's Impressions of the Earthquake

The following is an excerpt from an e-mail Hien wrote to a friend about what happened the day the earthquake struck:

Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2001 10:32:53 -0800 (PST)
From: D. Hoang
To: [Name withheld]
Subject: Re: Shaken?

... I was home sick that day, and instead of being in bed, I was at the computer working. I was on-line, in the middle of composing a message to send to work when the jolt came. I had thought, who would be using a jackhammer around here? But only a second later did I realize it was no man-made noise nor tremor. I bolted to the doorway, our kitchen table being ricketty as it is, with our computer monitor on top, I didn't want to get under it. My first thought was, I wish I was with my family. Hope that building the Day Care is in is up-to-code. Wonder where Joe would be? My goodness, this is a good one. Wonder when it's going to stop? We must be close to the center of it. JimmyniChristmas the center could be in Olympia. My building is not coming down, but will my mom's apartment withstand this? What should I do when the first series of shocks stop? My coat, I'm freezing standing here indoor. The cordless phone. The heck with staying off the line, I need to know how my family is first. My car keys are in the coat. That's all I'm going to need. Should I drive to Day Care? Will it be safe? Hard to tell. No real big building along the roads between here and the Day Care...

It stopped. The coat, the phone, the keys are in the coat. Oh, the computer is still on. I'm still on-line. Good, the line is still good. Better send a message to Joe just in case. Sent.

Get off line. Make the call to Day Care. Line is open. THis is probably good news. No one answered. Don't expect them to. Should be outside with the kids. Left a message. Turn the heater. Phone rang. It's Joe. Oh, good. My family is safe. Joe said no need to come down. They're OK. THe road is probably filled with people trying to get to their families. I'd better stay off the road. Called Olympia. No ring. Another Olympia number, no ring. Call an Olympia cell phone. Nothing. I still have dial tone on my phone. So it's not my line. Call SHelton, nothing. It must be the center. The radio. I'd know better what's going on.

The radio was working: the epicenter was 11 miles northeast of Olympia. No wonder. My hunch was right. WOnder how Mom and Dad are? Dad? His heart? Call again. Still nothing from Olympia, but got busy signal from Shelton. Good, maybe. Someone is on the phone. At least the line works...

Anyway, I eventually got through to my mom and learned that everyone was fine. My mom was a bit shaken, her first earthquake, pictures from the altar fell down, not a good omen. It took me a lot longer to get through to Mom and Dad. But they, too, were OK. Mom even went to Ash Wednesday mass that evening and Dad went to the airport to meet with someone about selling his airplane. My Dad was in Vietnam. He had left just early Tuesday morning. I suddenly realized that with the speed of communication these days, folks in Viet Nam would learn about the quake when they wake up in the morning. I sent out an e-mail to all relatives, and friends, that I know in VN who have e-mail (just 3 of them). My Dad would be worry sick if he heard of the quake. It might have been a good thing. He also has a heart condition. Don't know how he would have fared.

THe surprising thing was, shaken as everything was, nothing in our apartment seem to move out of place. The pictures are still upright and straight. No books off the shelf. All the dust remains intact. Too bad. Probably because we were in the basement, so we didn't have much of the swaying effect. I'd felt many a tremors from my years living in California, but none this strong and this long, and none as jerky as this one. They were all wavy kind of thing. And I certainly never heard such noise from the other quakes. Maybe I was closer to the center of the quake this time.

Anyway, it was quite an experience. I'm trying to get Ian to describe his experience and write it in a book form for him. He seems quite unscathed...

The End