It was shortly after 9 PM when a magnitude 5.1 earthquake centered at La Habra near Los Angeles rolled Southern California Friday night.
My husband was out for the evening, Lola was asleep in her bassinet in our room and I had left Lucas to look at books on his own 45 minutes earlier and knew he had to be asleep. I was enjoying a quiet minute and contemplating taking a shower.
All of a sudden the house started to shake. I panicked for a split second and then made my way to our walk-in closet for some reason. All the clothes on the hangers were swaying. I had never seen anything like that before and it was very creepy. I was nervous because I couldn’t remember what to do in case of an earthquake… Do I stand in a door way, crawl under the bed, what about the kids, why don’t we have an earthquake kit? Ugh, of all the nights for Todd to be out.
The jolt lasted a good 10 seconds.
Which is a long time if you think about it.
I texted Todd and he called me back right away, having been driving he didn’t feel a thing. As I talked to him, I walked down the hall to Lucas’s room.
I found him trembling knees to chest on his bed. What was that, he asked. Trying to remain calm I told him it was an earthquake. He said he thought the dog had been under his bed and then he asked if Lola was okay. How sweet is he? I asked him if he was scared and admitted that I was too. The house isn’t suppose to move like that!
I brought him into my room and turned on the TV (big mistake!!). We were both glued to news coverage for the next half hour, which prompted a lot of questions, especially when it was reported that Disneyland had shut down rides due to the quake. This is standard protocol for the Anaheim theme park, which is less than 10 miles from La Habra. Once the news coverage started to loop, I turned the TV off.
Lucas was then concerned about where daddy was because “it’s better when there are two parents”. He is so right! Todd arrived home safely and we all snuggled in our bed together. Lola soon joined us.
Lucas slept in our room with us but his questions continued until well after 11. He repeated over and over how glad he was that nothing broke or fell in our house with the exception of my shaving cream can in the shower. He kept getting tornadoes like the one in “Wizard of Oz” and earthquakes mixed up. He wanted us to leave lamps on and for the sun to come up because “everything is better in the light”. We tried to assure him that everything was okay and that if he didn’t want to close his eyes, he at least had to rest. Easier said than done when you are four years old and you have just experienced the earth moving for the first time.
I remember my first earthquake. It was in Palm Springs, the summer of 1986. A 5.9 magnitude, so considerably larger than last nights; and pictures did fall off the walls, windows broke and I was petrified. I was 14, 10 years older than my son is now. I’ve experienced several since then but it has been a while and they are always jarring.
Apart from all being a little tired today, the earthquake talk has stalled for now. I have found a couple of helpful You Tube videos to show Lucas if and when it comes up again. Todd and I have the makings of an earthquake/disaster kit and now know without a doubt the proper safety precautions :: DROP! COVER! HOLD ON! :: should it happen again, and living in Southern California, chances are good it will!
Tectonic plate action is confusing for adults, so how do we explain it to children?