Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Earth Moved Under our Feet

I realize that the Earth is always moving under our feet but yesterday we felt it move, literally.  We had just stepped off our elevator after a day at the beach when the earthquake hit off of the coast of Banda Aceh Indonesia.  We could feel the shift in the Earth 500Km away in Penang.  I realized we were experiencing an earthquake after I felt dizzy while taking off my shoes.  I couldn't figure out why the floor looked like it was moving until I looked up to see that our actually building was swaying from side to side, just like you were laying in a hammock.  Next we heard car alarms going off and the bells ringing at the temples across the road.  The shaking lasted for about 3 minutes and then it stopped.  We ran to our patio over looking Gurney to see if we weren't the only ones to feel it.  We weren't.  Our cell service went down so we were unable to text or call friends to make sure they were ok.  But to the rescue was....Facebook.  We still had internet and apparently, so did everyone else.  Within 30 seconds, people were posting, checking on each other and giving updates on the magnitude and if a tsunami warning was issued.  It was pretty amazing that people were able to get the word out immediately following the movement. Some of our friends evacuated their buildings and the malls were closed for the evening to keep people safe.

A tsunami warning was issued for Penang and the rest of the Indian Ocean nations.  An ambulance with sirens and microphones blaring, drove down Gurney asking all people to evacuate the seaside path and to seek higher ground do to the risk of a tsunami.  Slowly people cleared out and a eerie quiet started to set in.  The tsunami was scheduled to hit Gurney at 9pm. Some of our friends left the island and some of our friends, including us, decided to stay home and see what would happen from our balconies.  A large after shock, 8.1 magnitude hit around 7pm -- shaking the building and making waves in the pool.  Again, we decided to stay home.  Around 8pm reports started coming through that the Tsunami warning had been canceled for the entire Inidan Ocean region.  Thank God!  Last time a big earthquake and tsunami struck the Indian Ocean region was in 2004, the day after Christmas and over 200,000 people were killed.  Penang was lightly affected by that tsunami and many of the locals remember that event very well. 

It was a wild day and thankfully it wasn't a major catastrophe.  During the whole day, I couldn't believe how technology (facebook) really enabled us all to connect -- to our friends in Penang an family throughout the world.  We were able to pass information along when cell service was down and communicate instantly.  As much as I have resisted technology and being "connected" I have so much more gratitude and respect for it now.

No comments:

Post a Comment