Seven Point Oh

Last Friday, at about 8:30 in the morning, Anchorage, Alaska experienced a major earthquake. Seven point oh on the Richter Scale. That is the largest earthquake many of us have ever felt.

Thank you all very much for your kind words in emails and on social media. I feel very fortunate to have so many people care about our well being. THANK YOU.

This is our home in Anchorage. My office is on the third floor. 

It is a widow’s watch with very high ceilings and many windows on every wall.

While it can be cold in the winter up here, it is a lovely place to work, unless there is an earthquake.

(This is my office in the dark of 8:30AM. I took the photo today, and yes, I tidied up a bit.) So last Friday morning, I was going about my business, answering emails mostly likely, when things started to shake.

In the past, my plan has always been to head downstairs to safer ground. (We experience earthquakes several times a year.) So, I instinctively began to do just that.

These are the stairs I tried to walk down during the earthquake, but it didn’t work that way. Basically, I was tossed down them. I banged up my left knee and my right elbow in the process. Earthquake + Spiral Staircase = Tumble Down.

Finally, I managed to get to safer ground. During each pause in the action, I would dart some where in the house. First back upstairs to get my phone. Next down to the lowest level of our house.

Meanwhile our crazy orange cat Kato is scrambling in and out of rooms seeking shelter. The older cat Speedy actually found a secret hiding place—don’t ask me where, it’s his secret. He didn’t come out for 48 hours.

Tok, the dog, and I stayed put.

The husband called listing all the things I should be doing. Part of his real life job has to do with oil spill response and safety, so he has no problem barking orders about these things.

“Fill every empty bottle with a lid, the bathtubs, and sinks with water”. A couple of years ago, we lost power for almost a week because of a wind storm. If the power goes out, you are going to want water to flush your toilets. The earthquake had unsettled our well, and all the water was a rich tan to medium caramel color–not exactly drinking water.

“Smell for gas leaks and check the water tank.”

I say I will do these things, but Tok and I really don’t want to move from our little hallway haven.

The boys start calling. They have been evacuated and are standing outside their school. Son number three is beginning to understand why we tell him it is a stupid idea to wear shorts in the winter. Kids begin posting images on Snapchat sharing the status of their schools.

Everyone is on the road trying to get to safety while at the same time doing their best to prepare for the unknown. The grocery stores are swarmed with shoppers stocking up. There is a run on water.

The store’s response is to just haul all their water out into the middle of the store—no reason to stock when the shelves will just empty again.

Frey Meyers will only let you take out twenty bucks cash.

We were all in mild state of shock. Finally my family makes their way home. We begin the clean up and the preparation for worse. But it doesn’t happen. It doesn’t get worse. Thank you forces of the universe.

And that is the weird thing. It was really tramatic and scary while it was happening. I keep replaying in my head the image of me bouncing down our spiral staircase trying frantically to get down from our third floor. The animals were bonkers, and things were falling all over. It was out of control.

And then one day later, we are okay. The events don’t add up to the results. Thankfully this is true. We are okay. We lost some pottery and pantry items, Speedy went awol, son number three froze in his shorts. But other that we are fine.

We are very lucky.  

Yes. There are major infrastucture problems to deal with—our children won’t be able to go back to school until next week—but we are fine.

I think the hardest thing is the aftershocks. Some 1,800 aftershocks have been measured since the earthquake. You feel the rumble, and your body immediately goes into flight mode. The aderneline releases, and you feel fear of the unknown. And then it is over again until the next time. Experts say it is the new normal. At least for a couple of weeks. Here is the visual on that–those dots are quakes. You can read the entire story here

And that is my earthquake story. I feel so grateful for all of you, and for the amazingly precious human life that I get to live.

This entry was published on December 5, 2018 at 6:11 PM. It’s filed under Just Plain Stories, News And Events and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

25 thoughts on “Seven Point Oh

  1. Cursed earthquakes! The only good that comes out of them is the blessings people realize they have…before and after. May your future be earthquake/tremor free!

  2. When I heard about the earthquake my first thought was -how did Maria Shell make out? We’re you okay? So glad to hear things are blessedly okay!


  3. Yikes, so very real and thought provoking.I am glad that everyone is ok albeit a bit mindful of future shake,rattles and rolls. When we lived near Yellowstone and experienced one I actually bought the large blue water containers and dried food stuffs along with keeping kindling around to start small cookfires if needed. Again, Take care. Lynn

  4. We all love you and are glad you’re okay! I’m in YYJ and have been putting off getting our massive earthquake kit together, because ==cash flow==. November was a three paycheque month and that extra one will be buying the kits next week.

    Also, shorts in winter made me laugh. My husband got out all the toques and mittens which are still sitting in the same spot. I told him just today that “the kids are still wearing sweatshirts, no coats. Why would they wear mittens?!”

  5. PamRocco on said:

    I’m glad you’re okay, too. I thought of you right away when we heard the report Fri. night but assumed that you wouldn’t be able to communicate for days, as we weren’t able to after “The Big One” here in northern CA. We lived in the country, and our well water was okay but couldn’t be pumped by our electric pump. So, with my son in diapers, we had no water for two or three days. But we all survived and nothing was damaged in our house after it stopped shaking. I’m grateful that nothing happened to you and your family, and your youngest will wear pants in winter from now on, I’m guessing.

  6. I am so thankful you and yours are okay, Maria!

  7. Yes, the new normal. We are lucky. So many things worked like they were supposed to do. We are dealing with infrastructure, but I realized how shaken I am. I get up & got to work but why? I lost two pieces of our wedding crystal but I could care less. He didn’t like it. My real issue is not wanting to create & not sleeping well.

  8. I also should have said how glad that you are okay. It has been a rough few days. I am happy to see how fast things are being restored, how careful our superintendent is with opening schools, that I could buy coffee & creamer on Saturday. I hope you & your family recover soon.

  9. Jacqueline Galleymore on said:

    What an experience. I am so pleased that you and your family are safe and sound.

  10. Goodness that sounds so scary – hope your elbow and knee recover soon !

  11. I didn’t realize that Alaska had so many earthquakes each year! I’m glad to hear that you and your family surviv4d without significant injury.

    I’m amazed how quickly the roads were repaired, I hope your life returns to normal just as quick.

  12. Helen Nash May on said:

    Hi Maria,

    So glad you are all ok. I’ve been thinking a lot about you this past week and hoping everything was ok. Glad to hear that.

    I’ve been waiting to e you as I was sure you guys would have your hands full and another e-mail would just add to it. So glad you are all ok.

    Best, Helen

    Sent from my iPad


  13. I’m glad you and your family came through the earthquakes safely. We fill all the bathtubs and jugs for hurricanes for the same reason. It is nice to be able to flush a toilet.

  14. I experienced a quake in California 30 years ago. It was in the range of 5.5. I think that 7.0 is a whole ‘other ballgame, as the damage photos reveal. Blessing to you and yours, Maria. I’m glad everyone is safe.

  15. Lottie Smith on said:

    Thank you for sharing the experience: So glad you and yours are safe.

  16. I grew up in the Bay Area so earthquakes are familiar to me. But I don’t think I ever experienced a 7.0! I’m glad you are okay!

  17. Lennie Washington on said:

    Maria I am grateful you and your family are okay. The rest can be restored. I am a New Orleans native and know disaster firsthand, but each person’s experience is their own. I pray for healing of your body and mind from your tumble down the stairs. That must have been terribly frightening. Blessings!

  18. Maria, thanks for the update! As soon as I saw a post about the quake I contacted Barb. She hadn’t heard yet. When she couldn’t get you directly, she contacted Colleen. Seems crazy to be connected but so far away.
    So happy you are all ok.

  19. Thankfully you’re all safe. I still remember the Loma prieta quake like it was yesterday. It takes a while to get back to normal. I was amazed how fast your roads got repaired. California could take a lesson! (Love your studio) thanks for sharing,

  20. goodness…thank you so much for this post. I loved seeing the pictures and your experiences during the quake…It is amazing how trauma can happen in and instant and be over in an instant….Sending lots of love to son number three..ha ha xo

  21. Deborah Smalling on said:

    I’m so glad you and your family are okay! What an experience!

  22. elizabeth a hinze on said:

    I’m so glad you and your family is fine. I miss your blog : )

  23. Felt a bit odd to push the “like” button after reading such a scary post. Strength to you for the aftershocks

  24. Roberta Walley on said:

    Glad to know you and your are well. WESTSIDE Quilters of Los Angeles are thinking of you.

  25. Cindy from Texas on said:

    WOW! Thanks for sharing earthquake up close and personal. Glad you and your family are good.

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