Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Mommy, is there going to be a tsunami now?" ~ The East Coast Quake August 23, 2011

My 8 year old son asks me "Mommy, is there going to be a tsunami now?" after an 5.8 (downgraded from the original estimate of 5.9) earthquake hits us on the East Coast of the USA.

This is not the first question I had in my mind, I'm thinking we don't get quakes in New Jersey, I'm still trying to figure out what just happened having never experienced one before. We have snowstorms, blizzards, heat waves, hurricanes (in fact Irene is on her way up the eastern seaboard right now), and tornadoes but not earthquakes. In my 46 years I've only experienced 2 little tremors around the 2-3 pointer range, strong enough to notice when I was a pre-teen back in the late 70's and another in what I think was the early 80's. An actual earthquake though, nope not here in New Jersey at least, we have terra firma, we may have almost everything else but the ground doesn't shake. Well, okay, yes it actually does...there are always little tremors, the earth adjusting itself but they aren't noticable without equipment with the exception of the two I mentioned above and more than likely a couple that I never noticed.
They are mostly little 1 pointers, nothing big.

We just don't know what an earthquake feels like on the east coast.....until yesterday (8/23/2011).

My husband and I looked up wondering what was going on now, who knew, I thought someone had hit the side of our building, a big truck was going by? Then the whole kitchen shook, I really thought our outside wall was about to come down. I backed away into the doorjam between the dining and living rooms....that's when I knew, I felt the earthquake transfer through the wall to me. I yelled for our son, The Red Ranger, and yelled to my husband get in the doorway. Besides the thought of, we are having an earthquake, the only other thought was to get us all into the doorway.
The Red Ranger asked right then what it was and I answered him saying its an earthquake, this is where we stay until its over.
I'm thinking...'an earthquake, really?'

Then it was over, I'm told it was only 30-45 seconds long...can I just say it felt longer!
I explained what just happened to our son and said we could feel a couple more trembles every now and then but it was okay. We still had power, we still had the TV and the internet but no house phone. We both reached for cell phones to call our family, it took a little bit to get through but we did.
A neighbor knocked on our door asking us, "what was that?"
All of this after stuff took less than the quake itself and in the midst of calling and checking on everyone comes the question.....

"Mommy, is there going to be a tsunami now?"

Of course it was his next question.

All he knows of an earthquake is what happened in Japan....of course, logically it was the next question in his mind. We had talked about Japan's earthquake and the tsunami that followed, we had talked about California, we had gone over what an earthquake was.......we just never prepared for one...because we don't get them here on the east coast of the USA.

That was when the lessons began....

Me: "I don't think so."
- I couldn't tell him no....if you had asked me if there was going to be an earthquake I would have said no. I couldn't tell him no because he knows how close we are to the ocean, we go there all the time.
- Me again: "It depends on where it was centered, let's find out".
By then the poor weather guy had turned into the earthquake guy on our local news.....I have to laugh at that one. We knew it was centered in Virginia....Virginia???

I could then answer his question......"No, it was on land not in the sea."

Then I showed him how an earthquake moved by moving my hand against his. Explained the difference of the earthquake we just had and the kind that normally hit California because by then the poor weather guy and said it was still strong 200 miles away in New Jersey because of bedrock.
I also went back over what to do and where to go if we felt another one, what to do if our building started to come down.
Later, when I looked up earthquake information to teach in our homeschool today I was quite proud of myself. My explanations were the same as were in the lessons that I was finding.

All in all, it wasn't that bad, scary yes, but not bad.
Certainly nothing like other places in the world have experienced. For us on the East Coast though its something we have never felt (the last one was over 114 years ago!), give us a blizzard and we can handle it, give us an earthquake though........I'm thankful we have that bedrock under us that spreads it out over long distances.

Our lessons sure will be different over the next few days.....
And our son......he went back to playing Nintendo DS.......:-)

His mother on the other hand explored the USGS website......

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  1. WOW! Dawn, you are a very talented writer. I really enjoyed this post. I look forward to seeing what you have to say next!

  2. Dawn what a great teaching moment for you and your son:) I lived in VA for 10 years and never ever experienced a earthquake there. Thanks for linking up to the NOBH:)

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