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15 October 2006


Earthquake On Sunday morning, 15 October 2006, 7:07am local time, there was a 6.6 magnitude earthquake 10 miles north of us.  There were several aftershocks including one measuring 5.8.  This earthquake was large enough and close enough to be significant.

Everything is fine here, no major damage or injuries.  Things certainly did shake quite violently during the earthquake.  The electricity, telephones and radio stations were out for a little while.  We had to spend about an hour sweeping up glass from all the stuff that fell off the shelves.  Our sliding screen doors all popped off, I guess the door frames flexed enough, but none of the glass broke and there's no structural damage to the house.  More importantly, my barn is still standing, no damage at all!  All the hurricane straps I've added seem to work pretty good for earthquakes too.

For comparison's sake, the 1994 Northridge earthquake near LA was magnitude 6.7.  We didn't live there until years later and our neighbors still had plenty of stories to tell.  Valerie and I did live through the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake near San Francisco.  It was a 6.9 and it collapsed freeways, bridges, houses, etc.  Sunday's earthquake here was smaller but felt much larger to us because we were so close.  This was definitely the strongest feeling earthquake I've ever experienced.

Most people think of California as the state with all the earthquakes.  Actually, every state in the union has experienced earthquakes.  California certainly has plenty but here in Hawaii we've felt more earthquakes than we ever did in California.  That's not too surprising since this island is the largest mountain in the world (sea floor to peak) and it has several active volcanoes on it.

With most earthquakes, by the time you get up and head for cover, the whole thing is over.  This time there was plenty of opportunity to decide which cover to head for.  I decided to head to the living room to check on the kids.  When I got there, they were already hiding under the desk.  They are fine.  The only injuries were a few minor cuts on my toes, I think from the falling glass.

One phenomenon I've noticed about earthquakes is that they always seem worse in the news reports than they do in real life.  During the Loma Prieta quake the news showed what looked like entire blocks of houses on fire.  We visited the spot a few days later.  You had to stand in exactly the right spot to see the damage.  If you looked a little to your left or to your right, you'd see perfectly fine, undamaged structures.

Sunday's earthquake did cause some damage.  There were landslides, closed roads and some structural damage here and there.  Many people went for quite some time without power and one friend of ours was stuck at Honolulu airport for way too long.  But here on the farm it was a beautiful sunny day and, after picking up the mess, we got right back to work with our regular farm chores.

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