Coming from Southern California, I'd say that I've experienced my fair share of Mother Nature realigning her tectonic plates from time to time. From a small kid on, you're taught that when the ground gets ta' shaking, get under a doorway or preferably under a large sturdy table until the shaking subsides. Growing up, there were always rumblers here and there that were unnerving - but for the most part it was just part of life living where I lived. Usually the ground would lightly tremble, you'd stop, take note (waiting to see if it's just a little one or it's going to get stronger) and then went about your business.
However, when Ms. Mother Nature decided to shift things around this past Wednesday (Sept. 5) at 8:42 a.m., I was totally caught off guard. Standing in my kitchen cooking breakfast, it took a few milliseconds for it to register what exactly was happening. I guess my earthquake sensors are a bit out of practice and I didn't register "earthquake" nearly as quickly as I would have living in LA.
I had just returned from a hike when I felt what I interpreted to be dizziness, but then realized that there was a rumbling noise all around me. Suddenly the mental hiccup passed and it registered "EARTHQUAKE!!!!!" and I went into auto mode of looking for a a sturdy table (uhhhh...don't own one) or doorway....(uhhhhh.....questionable Costa Rican construction) to seek shelter under.
But in Costa Rica - that's not the proper game plan. See here, there are no large sky rises showering glass down, nor high power lines, or billboards, however there is some rather shady construction at times so the outside is exxxacccctly where you want to get. Lucky me, my knight in shining armor Costa Rican hubby responded more accurately and pulled me out of the house.
As we ran out the front door, the roof of our patio was trembling and clanking and there was this loud rumbling noise from all directions. (SCARY!!!) As we reached the front gate the ground was absolutely rattling and it was difficult to stand up -- and still the noise. The shaking kept getting stronger and at that point all I could do was pray "Oh God, please keep us safe!" It really began to seem feasible that it was going to keep getting stronger. It was surreal and I thought "could this really be happening???" But then, the shaking stopped and we looked at each other and ran to get the car keys and get to higher ground.
We live about 1/4 mile from the beach and having no idea where this large quake was epicentered - we had to get up and fast. For all we knew it was epicentered directly in front of where we were and a wave was headed our way. Our town is 21 feet above sea level. Not a good place to be had this huge jolt generated any large wave action.
Luckily, we live at the base of a good size hill which is probably the best place to get to quickly in situations like these. So off we went - quickly -- tuned the radio to the news and sat above the town overlooking the ocean. Slowly the hilltop starting filling up with other residents of town after a tsunami alert was issued for the entire Central American Pacific coast.
As news started coming in we learned that the earthquake measured 7.6 - epicentered less than 40 miles from my home. Ah-ha. No wonder I felt that sucker so hard.
It really was quite a shaker!! As I recall other quakes I've experienced I'd say the only one that would really qualify as "large quake" would be the 1994 Northridge quake which measured 6.7 -- significantly smaller than what I felt with this shaker. This was by far the largest, strongest earthquake I've ever felt and let me just say ....whoa!
Experiencing something like this in a place that is so "off the map" really does make one think about things like emergency preparedness. Had this been something more serious, where I live (out in "the country") help would not be coming anytime soon. This has really impressed on me (and hopefully others) the importance of putting some thought into what it means to be prepared and to immediately get those items together.
There have been lots and lots of aftershocks in the past 3 days. We keep getting jolted awake by shakers like this morning's aftershock which registered 5.6 -- still a good size quake. I'm hoping things mellow out soon. My nerves are a bit rattled....literally.