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!