I don’t know if this was THE Big One, but Friday’s earthquake in Anchorage was certainly A Big One. The boys and their mom were at the school where she teaches and they are in second and fifth grade. Miles, the fifth grader was at his before school bell chime class, and Henry was playing in his mom’s classroom before school started. Their mom, Caitlin, was down the hall in another teacher’s room when the earthquake started. She remembers getting under the door frame and having trouble standing as she was bounced up and down by the quake. Ceiling tiles and other things were flying around, as her teacher friend dove under her desk. Caitlin remembers yelling down the hall to Henry to get under a table. The lights went out and the shaking continued. When it stopped, she found Henry under a table piled with debris in her classroom- and they all headed to the gym. Their emergency team sprung into action, gathering children and staff and accounting for everyone- but then a huge aftershock made everyone realize this was an ongoing event. The school was evacuated when a gas leak was discovered and the children were taken by bus to a street in the neighborhood- and eventually to another school in the area. Caitlin and the kids drove home to find a very scared Penny, the golden retriever, in a house filled with open cupboards, tipped over furniture, and broken glass and debris everywhere. The big screen TV was broken on the floor, and the wood stove had been moved forward out of the fireplace. Soon afterwards, Justin came home from his job in Anchorage. There was no power for several hours, and the boiler which heats the house was broken.
The children were pretty traumatized as the aftershocks continued and stayed close to their parents as they cleaned up and assessed damage. Eventually the power came back on, dinner was prepared, and the family bedded down (in their clothes and with backpacks full of emergency supplies)in the office downstairs close to the door for a quick escape if necessary. No one slept much.
Aftershocks are ongoing, but the boiler has been repaired, and the family was able to get some actual sleep last night. There will be no school for at least a few days, and life will slowly return to normal. Or a new normal.
And we grandparents are beginning to calm down as well- and are so grateful that everyone is unhurt!