Oceania / Travel Tales

Shake, Rattle, And Thankfully No Roll

I felt an earthquake today, and it scared me. I’ve felt a quake before, years ago whilst I was working in Cyberjaya, Malaysia. The earthquake actually occurred in Indonesia, but it was so strong that some buildings swayed in Malaysia too. I was sitting at my office cubicle at the time, and I felt a sudden slight swaying, akin to the feeling of being on a still boat gently rolling in tiny ripples of the ocean. It lasted only a few seconds and wasn’t anything alarming.

Today was a different matter entirely! At a little after 10am in the morning I was standing and talking with my friend at work when suddenly I heard a muffled rumble, and then everything was shaking! It didn’t last very long, but long enough for my friend to recover from his stunned expression to say “Woah! Earthquake!”. My only response was to continue be wide-eyed and letting out a small squeaky whimper.

And then the shaking stopped.

Image taken from The Encyclopedia of New Zealand website. Click on image to redirect to the website and read more on NZ's history of earthquakes.

But I was still in a bit of a shock and my heart continued beating faster than normal. I have to admit, when the shaking started I was SCARED. It registered in me that we were feeling an earthquake, and that I was standing on the 16th floor of a high-rise office building that’s built on reclaimed land. It didn’t feel very safe! I recited a prayer and calmed down a little soon after, especially since my friends were quite relaxed about it all. A check of the news revealed that it wasn’t a very strong quake, registering 4.2 on the Richter scale. We had a slightly bigger quake just last Saturday the 3rd of December when one registering 5.7 in magnitude occurred. Thankfully I did not feel that one, as at the time when it happened I was walking outdoors on a windy, winding, and hilly street in the Evans Bay area. I guess if you’re outdoors and moving about you don’t really feel the ground shaking unless it’s a major one happening very close to you.

So there you have it, my first experience of an earthquake happening right where I’m at. I guess there’s no avoiding it really, seeing as to how New Zealand is known for being-not so much at risk-but with certainty to be hit by earthquakes. More importantly for Wellington in particular, the threat of a tsunami causing damage to the city is higher than the actual quake itself. We’re embraced by the Tasman Sea on one side and the South Pacific Ocean on the other, and the city is situated a mere jump and a skip away from the sea shore.

I’ve been briefed with emergency procedures at the workplace, as well as the typical measures to take in the event of an earthquake or tsunami. Being an avid traveler, a trained First Aider, as well as having worked in a multi-national energy & petrochemicals company that emphasizes on healthy, safety & security measures, I consider myself to be someone who is somewhat mentally, physically and logistically prepared for emergencies. But after getting home from work this afternoon, I decided that another quick refresh of emergency procedures would not hurt. I checked and updated emergency contact numbers in my phone,  and  also wrote them down on a piece of paper to keep in my passport. Also, the Wellington Regional Council has made a large amount of useful information readily available and accessible on the internet which I can read and familiarize myself with – like the Tsunami Evacuation Zone Maps (fortunately, the house I am currently living in is up on a hill and just outside the evacuation zones!). I’m also re-reading some websites about basic 3-day survival requirements, choosing to be extra paranoid and safe, rather than sorry!

If any Kiwis or Wellingtonians happen to be reading this, they might laugh a little at me. I’m guessing they’re all pretty much used to the shakes and rumbles – but I’m not! I’m praying and hoping today’s experience will be my last, or at least the strongest quake I’d ever feel. Not quite sure how realistic my hope is though, seeing as to how the strongest earthquake to hit Wellington occurred in 1855; and the last major one occurred in 1942 – causing many to speculate that a big quake (one that measures higher than 7.0 magnitude) is well overdue.

Soundtrack: Bachelorette – Duet Minus One
Mood: Anticipative
Location: Bedroom, Wellington, New Zealand
Random thought: How long can I wait? How long should I wait?

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One thought on “Shake, Rattle, And Thankfully No Roll

  1. So now you’re not a quake virgin any more eh? Hehe. Yeah, I’ve experienced several quakes during the 11 years in LA and gotten used to it but after so many of those, I felt that when the next one comes, I might not be so lucky and it’ll be the big one and we’ll be trapped under the collapsed condo or even dead so I told UncaBob that we should leave LA and I’m glad we did.

    It’s good that you’re reading up on quake safety and are prepared. Just hope when the next one comes, you won’t be sitting on the toilet doing your business, hahaha.

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