Essays Written for The Plantation News

I wrote essays for The Plantation News, our family newspaper, between 1983 and 2003. Some essays recorded actual events, while others were humor, satire or fiction. The Plantation News transitioned from paper to blog and continues online here.

California Earthquake 1992

A Direct Dispatch From The Scene
June 28, 1992

“Hi, Mom! It’s shaking here big time!” With these words I woke Mom at 4:59 a.m. PST, about 8 a.m. your time. “We’re having an earthquake, a big one,” I continued. “It’s still shaking now, big time!” In a quake that felt like standing up unbalanced in a small rowboat, this reporter was shaking and trembling as much as the earth, and for a lot longer than the 20 to 30 seconds that the ground shook.

Being a nightowl, I was still awake at 4:58 a.m. when the (now rated) 7.4 Richter quake struck. I was standing up going to the bathroom (!) and noticed that the hanging glass shower doors were swinging about 1 1/2 inches back and forth. But the wind wasn’t blowing, the cat wasn’t nearby; I was momentarily confused. It was as though there was a poltergeist in the shower. Then I felt it in my knees, felt off balance, heard the whole apartment building creak; and I realized that an earthquake was happening! I let out a little shout of both excitement and fear. I felt a mixture of both, “Alright! An earthquake!” and “Oh my, this is a big one!” Car alarms were going off.

The rocking motion kept going on, so I stood in the doorway, then moved to another doorway, where I could reach the phone. The earth was still shaking a bit when Mom answered and this reporter, absorbing the huge adrenalin rush that this quake generated, shook and trembled for about an hour more. I felt one, and maybe two aftershocks in the ten minutes after the original earthquake. According to TV, the epicenter was Landers, near Palm Springs, about 200 miles southeast of Santa Barbara.

As for those theories about animals having foreknowledge of quakes, Buddy the cat acted normally throughout – asleep!

Oh again, as I’m writing this, another big aftershock! It’s 8:06 a.m. … a big aftershock. The blinds in the window are swinging, and I can feel the earth moving enough that I’m shifting my weight back and forth on my feet to remain standing. There, it’s over; about 15 seconds.

Note later: They’re now saying that this was a second, separate quake, 6.5 Richter. Wow, two in one morning! Whew, that’s enough for me!

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February 25, 2020
05:23:53 PM