The editorial board’s morning planning meeting had just broken up, and we were on our way back to our desks to start working on that day’s pages when the 6.8 Nisqually earthquake struck.
I dove under my desk and heard things falling off my shelves. Dave Seago, our now-retired editorial page editor, braced himself in the doorway. Patrick O’Callahan high-tailed it down the stairs, under the enormous Chihuly chandelier and out the front door. (I still kid him about how close he may have come to the notoriety of being an art-glass earthquake victim.)
After what seemed like an eternity, the shaking stopped. I poked my head out from under the desk and told Seago, “I think we have a new editorial topic for tomorrow!”
My first reaction was to check on family members, but phone lines were jammed. I sent out a brief e-mail to family and friends in other states to let them know I was OK. At lunchtime I drove home (in Lakewood, closer to the epicenter) to see if there was any damage.
I was sure I would find my china cabinet overturned, but it was fine. A few things were knocked off shelves, and every picture on the wall was crooked, but nothing broke. On the drive back to work, though, I saw several homes’ chimneys had crumbled.
Given the strength and length of the jolt that morning, it’s amazing that no one was killed (although one person reportedly suffered a fatal heart attack). I resolved to do all sorts of things around the house to be ready for the next one, but all I’ve done is secured many of my nicer vases and other glass objects to the shelves with putty and stashed emergency stuff in the garage (tent, cookstove and fuel, lantern, crank radio, sleeping bag).
We lucked out in 2001. The experts tell us that we’re due for a much bigger quake, and at least we can’t say we weren’t warned.