The Strongest Earthquake
He and she had only been married for a few years when the Air Force sent him off to Shemya, Alaska, while she and their two children stayed home in California. (Shemya is an island in the Bering Sea, about 200 miles off Russia, which has absolutely nothing but an Air Force base, foxes, and tons of snow.)
She was shaken awake on the morning of February 1, 1975. Not by one of her kids, but by the room itself. The bed was jumping up and down and actually rolling back and forth on the tiled floor, and the Venetian blinds were violently shaking against the window. Being a native Californian, she knew that this was an earthquake. A big one. A very big one.
When the shaking stopped, she jumped out of bed to check on the kids. She met them in the hall outside her bedroom. Just as she got to them, the shaking started again. They held onto her, she held onto the stair railing, and they rode it out. Earthquakes are scary, but they also give more of an adrenaline rush than the biggest roller coaster. When the shaking was over, all three of them alternated between crying and laughing.
They dressed quickly and went outside to hear the reactions of her neighbors, many of whom she knew had never experienced an earthquake before. But, none of them felt anything at all that morning. Wow, they were sound sleepers.
There was little time before her parents were to arrive to celebrate her birthday, but she checked the news channels. Nothing.
She told her parents all that happened and asked if they had felt the earthquake at all. They did live two hours away, but the earthquake had been huge. But, they had not felt it. Well, people don’t always feel an earthquake when they are driving.
After her parents left, she ran to the television again. There it was, she was not crazy. The newsman was telling all about the earthquake. It had been a magnitude 7.6 quake – wow, it really was huge —- off the island of Shemya!
“A major earthquake injured several residents and caused severe damage on the Shemya Island. The Shemya Air Force Base runway sustained cracks. Crevasses having as much as 16.5 meters of vertical displacement were observed on Sheyma. Landslides occurred, water tanks twisted, and underground waterpipes broke.”
She had felt, heard and experienced “his” earthquake thousands of miles away.