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Earth-Shaking Events

On Tuesday, December 29, about a quarter to midnight, my wife and I were reading in bed when the bed began to vibrate. This is unusual since it is not that kind of bed. We are not those kind of people.

Then there was a loud bang, the cat shot off the bed like she was shot out of a cannon, the dogs began running around in circles in the back room, and the crystal glasses in the buffet began ping-ping-pinging together, which sounded like an alarm in the distance. The whole thing lasted 5 to 10 seconds.

By this time, we were wide awake. I went to my computer and googled a website that tracks earthquakes in British Columbia. I got a message that the website was not accessible due to heavy traffic, which already told me a lot of what I wanted to know. My wife went to a more reliable source of information, Facebook, where our daughter had already posted that an earthquake had awakened her and her husband.

At least, I wasn’t one of the idiots who phoned 911 to ask if there had been an earthquake, jamming the line and preventing people with real emergencies from getting help. Apparently, being an idiot is not considered an emergency urgent enough to justify calling 911.

The latest calculation is that it was a 4.7 earthquake, which is relatively small. The epicentre (earthquakes are too important to just have centres) was northeast of Victoria in the strait that separates Vancouver Island from the rest of British Columbia. This was along a minor fault. The largest fault is on the other side of Vancouver Island, where “the big one” is expected to hit. Apparently, when an earthquake hits, it is important for the experts to determine whose fault it is.

Afterward, people posted photos of the damage—two pop cans knocked over, a lawn chair knocked over with the determined caption “We will rebuild!”, and before and after shots of Vancouver from the air (the shots were identical).

Since living in British Columbia, we have now survived three earthquakes (that we felt), one volcanic eruption (Mount St. Helens, which we heard in Port Coquitlam as a loud explosion in the spring of 1979), and at least one flood (which did not come anywhere near our place). Natural disasters are fun and exciting, as long as they are not really disasters.


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