I can't seem to get that Carole King song out of my head this morning. I suppose it's because I truly did feel the earth move yesterday, and I'm still a little freaked out. A 5.0-magnitude earthquake hit our area yesterday at approximately 1:45 p.m. This is not a common thing. In fact, it is said that an earthquake only hits in our region about once every 10 years. I lived in another part of Canada 10 years ago, and I had never experienced an earthquake until yesterday. I really don't want to experience it again.
I was quietly working in my office of my government building on the fifteenth floor, when suddenly I felt a rumble. It was mild and I thought someone was moving furniture, or maybe there was work being done on the elevators. Then, not two seconds later, it got stronger. Much stronger. My desk was moving, my body was shaking, I could feel the floor vibrating under my feet. I was standing by then, and my heart skipped as I looked at the window, terrified of what I might see. Was it a bomb? Was the building colapsing, had something hit the building? I ran into the hallway and my coworkers were all standing around, looking shocked as well.
Just as we started to ask each other, What was that? What do we do?, the fire alarm sounded. I was panicking. I sprinted back to my office, grabbed my purse and BlackBerry, and headed to the stairwell. We still didn't know what was going on. There were speculations that it had been an earthquake, but nothing confirmed. We didn't even know at that point whether anyone else in the city had felt it. Some people were laughing and chatting on the way down. Not me. I was really scared. My heart was pounding, my chest was tight. I could feel my neck burning and knew that it was all blotchy. I just wanted to GET OUT. As we were neared the bottom floors, my phone rang. It was Hubby, asking if everything was ok. He was at work, about 15 minutes away from me, and he had just experienced the the same feeling. I felt a bit of relief, knowing that it wasn't just my building and it had been felt all over the city. Hubby had called the school and daycare and both kids were fine. That was good news. Finally, we got to the main floor and out to the street and I was able to breathe again. My legs felt all wobbly from nerves mixed with 15 flights of stairs. My heart was still fluttering, but I finally felt safe.
After an hour of waiting outside in the hot, humid weather, we realized that it would be much longer before anyone could go back in. The buildings would have to be inspected to ensure no structural damage had occured. We were told to go home. As I was driving home, I realized that I probably over-reacted. But I couldn't shake that feeling of terror that came over me when I felt the first big shake. The feeling of helplessness is inexplicable. They talked about it on the radio, and it was all over news sites and Facebook. There had been quite a bit of damage in other parts of the region. A small bridge had collapsed, windows were broken, chimneys and roofs were damaged. But there were no reported injuries, which is the most important thing.
I picked up the kids on my way home. Miss M and the other children at daycare had been napping at the time and didn't feel a thing. J had been on a school trip and was standing outside with his friends, waiting for the bus to bring them back home. He said they had barely felt it. I was glad they hadn't been scared. We drove home and went about our day as usual. This morning I'm sitting back at my desk, writing this post when I should be working. So now I will go back to work and hope that my first earthquake experience will also be my last.