Never a dull moment!

Tonight we experienced our first tsunami evacuation. A 7.7 earthquake hit this evening off the coast of British Columbia, and a tsunami warning was quickly issued for SE Alaska.

Rob is on call in Metlakatla this weekend, and he was at the clinic seeing a patient when the quake hit. I was at the apartment we use when he works here, and was completely absorbed in my blog world, reading authors I follow, posting comments, in my own little fog. The apartment was quiet, until I noticed the lamp on the table beside me vibrating. At first I thought someone was running a washing machine in the apartment above. Then I realized nothing was running, but the lamp was definitely moving. Not a good sign. I actually got up and opened the front door, but didn’t see swaying utility poles or anything that looked out of the ordinary. So I went back to my laptop.

My phone rang and Rob was on the line, asking me if I felt the quake, saying we were being evacuated. I drove to the clinic to pick him up, he loaded the back of the car with some medical supplies, and we drove to the high point on the island, probably less than a couple of miles away. A long line of cars was already headed that way, and we quickly moved to the area where the medical and EMS personnel were gathered. Sitting there, then getting out of the car, talking with some of the others who were gathered, waiting, it was a little like an impromptu neighborhood party. Someone passed around bottled water, a kid came around with coffee. There was lots of conversation about other earthquake experiences, other natural disasters. If I had thought to bring food to snack on we could have had a tailgate party.

Listening to the radio from Ketchikan, we learned that a very small wave…just a few inches…had hit another island in the region. I’m not sure if any noticeable wave ever hit Metlakatla or Ketchikan. All I know is we waited about two hours for official word to come so we could be released to go home and eat the dinner I had left in the oven.

In the end, we were released, but I came back to the apartment by myself. Rob went back to the clinic to take care of a patient who had experienced some kind of event during the evacuation. Now I sit watching the updates on the tsunami heading toward Hawaii, with occasional updates on hurricane Sandy moving toward the East Coast. You never know, do you, what’s coming your way?

The last time we were here for the weekend, there was a murder, the first murder in this community in 20 years I was told. I think we’ll wait a while before we make a return visit. These little towns…too intense for me!

17 thoughts on “Never a dull moment!

    • Yes, I’m really concerned as I see all the coverage of this huge storm. I have never experienced a hurricane, but it looks so frightening in size and power! But you’re right, we’ll be back to normal soon, I hope! ~ Sheila

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  1. My son had just told me that had 8 point something earthquake in Alaska…is that true?…haven’t been listening to the news…glad you are Ok…and it’s kind of exciting isn’t it when things of weather happen…talking to people and wondering about what’s happening or going to happen…Wonder why we are like this?…mkg

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    • Hey, it was exciting all right! I really felt the adrenaline for a few minutes last night! But we learned pretty quickly that there was no real danger, thank goodness. After that we just had to wait in the area where we were directed to evacuate until the official “all clear” was given…A nice end to a scary few minutes! ~ Sheila

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  2. We’re right on the water, but we really aren’t in danger of our house or street flooding. We rode out Isabelle here, so I think we’ll be okay. Just hoping we don’t lose electricity and don’t have any damage… Thanks!

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    • Oh, good to know! Definitely more comfortable to stay cozy at home than having to be displaced. And you can live blog the storm :) Our house in Ketchikan sits on a street overlooking the water, but we are in a protected area, the Tongass Narrows, not open ocean, so I haven’t had a lot of concern about weather and water either. Stay dry! ~ Sheila

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  3. Beautifully told…you’d make a great reporter!

    It reminds me of the 8.4 ‘Good Friday’ quake in ’64 that seriously damaged Anchorage…not to mention the resulting 18′ tsunami that leveled the business district in Crescent City (CA). When we moved to Ketchikan (in ’67) I VERY consciously chose property that was some distance from the shore, and significantly higher. In fact it was a small ‘knoll’ (which has since been leveled) on the east side of North Tongass about 100 yards north of Pond Reef Road, and right next door to Enright’s place…which at that time consisted of only a house, a small dump truck, a little ‘Cat’ and a tiny shop in back. (Looking at the current Google ‘overhead’ view, it would seem their ‘operation’ has since grown considerably.) ;-)

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    • Yes, I’ve seen footage of the destruction from that Anchorage quake. Amazing to look at those scenes! Since my only coastal living has been in Alaska, I have to admit I’m not very attuned to the threat of tsunamis, or I haven’t been:) until the last couple of years. There was actually a tsunami warning posted for this area following the quake that caused the tsunami that struck Japan. But I was at home in Ketchikan for that one, and there was no evacuation order issued, so it was a less dramatic experience than our little event last night.

      You were very savvy indeed to think about your location when you moved here! Our house in Ketchikan is on Water Street, so we are a street above Tongass. But that’s just luck…I didn’t give these issues a thought when we were considering where to buy! ~ Sheila

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    • Hey, I’ve been thinking of you, glad to hear you’re still able to be at home…I wondered if you would be evacuated. Of course with the four hour time difference, the story may be different by now. Praying for safety for your side of the country! ~ Sheila

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