By Ellen Shehadeh
I don’t mean to get personal, but what were you doing last Sunday morning at 3:20 am? Most of us in West Marin were supine in our respective beds, which for some reason were in motion. Many slept right through the event, which as everyone knows by now, was an earthquake originating not far from us, in and around the Napa Valley. Others knew immediately we were once again experiencing a significant earthquake- this one seened much gentler than the 1989 Loma Prieta version.
Naturally, we have stories. And here are a few:
SUBHEAD: Katie Eberle of Marshall- The naked responder
There’s a first time for everyone, and mine was August 24, at 3:20 am. I was having a dream that one of my eyes was deformed, but somehow everybody found me incredibly attractive- then I was bolt upright in bed because my little cabin was shaking. I knew it was an earthquake, and it was terrifying to me because it was my first. Having lived in a constant state of outsider-panic about earthquakes ever since moving to California – imagining the many ways I could be crushed – I exited my loft like a flying squirrel, grabbing my handheld radio and running out the door. Not knowing what to do next, I just stood there in the nighttime fog, listening.
Now, I am the Marshall coordinator for the West Marin Disaster Council and I also work at KWMR. We have a volunteer group of citizens out here that is supposed to activate in the event of a fire, flood, tsunami, earthquake, you-name-it. We run a monthly radio drill to keep our community groups “in shape” for when something dangerous actually comes our way, and with this in mind, I stood there waiting. Would anyone respond now that we had a real event?
In under a minute, a man’s voice, bewildered and groggy, crackled through the speaker: “… anyone else feel that?” Our West Marin ad-hoc disaster network, worked! It was Jim Fox from Inverness, calling out for more information. What was more incredible, KWMR’s Station Manager, Amanda, responded on a dime. Then KWMR transmitter engineer, Richard Dillman confirmed that he was patching in to the station to conduct a live remote broadcast. A Disaster Council correspondent in the San Geronimo Valley popped up to check in, and then I myself checked in for Marshall. The airwaves were jumping. Within 10 minutes of the earthquake, we were broadcasting information on KWMR out to the public and receiving calls from all over the place.
What a first earthquake to have- intrigue, immediate response, and luckily for us no damage to report. Only when things died down did I finally head back inside. And that’s when I realized: I was buck naked, holding a radio.
SUBHEAD: Susanna Henderson, Inverness Park- You can always blame a raccoon
I was sleeping outside and felt a bump on my bed. Thinking it was a nervy raccoon, I got up and, in indignation, went inside to sleep the rest of the night, mumbling dark things about raccoons.
SUBHEAD: Ellen Serber, Point Reyes Station – Max, the rooster, valiant in death
Max, the rooster, also called Max ZuZu, died during the earthquake defending his flock of hens from the unseen enemy that rattled the chicken house and buckled the floor. He was found in the morning in the outside pen, sprawled on the ground by the fence, as if he had flown to the perimeter and then fell, struck by an unknown foe. He will be missed.
SUBHEAD: Susan Brayton of Inverness- More blame for the animals
I am interested that so many people thought it was something their animals or outside animals were doing. Friends thought it could be the dog scratching, raccoons in the fig tree or a cat rocking the bed. For me, at first I thought it was the dog pushing up against the bed, and then oh, oh, closet doors rattling! It’s an earthquake, then lying totally still hoping the ceiling wouldn’t collapse on me.
SUBHEAD: Mary Olsen, Inverness- What will everyone do without me?
Twenty-four hours after the recent early morning quake, just about every member of my tribe had checked in with me, either by email or telephone. “Are you OK?” my friends and family in other parts of the country wanted to know. One cousin said she was praying for me. That touched me deeply. Someone praying for me? I wonder how that prayer went?
Let Mary still be alive. What will we do without her help planning our family reunion in Chatham, Massachusetts? She volunteered to cook our big dinner Saturday night. Pretty complicated, lobster, corn, salad. and tiramisu. And, she’s bringing the wine. Has she shipped it yet? Oh God! Plus, she has all the really good photos of grandmother and grandfather. And the family tree. Oh how I wish she’d entered all that info on ancestry.com.”
My older brother called. He left a message. “Mary, can you shoot us a couple of cases of that nice Lodi Zin before the aftershocks hit?”
”We are seeing photos on TV of wine barrels busted from their racks and wine flowing everywhere. What a mess.”
Yes. I slept through it. Didn’t feel a thing. I wish I had a better story to offer. My husband felt the quake. Heard it and felt it. I’m furious he didn’t awaken me. Even our dog didn’t get excited, despite the fact that the house got a good shaking. Couldn’t have been that good though-not even one spice jar fell out of my rickety spice shelf.