Earthquake Rattles Napa

You never know what you will be doing when the earth literally decides to shake underneath you. On Aug. 24 at around 3:20 a.m., I was doing what any person exhausted from work was doing — sleeping. Much to my surprise, however, I was abruptly awoken by my iron frame queen size bed moving slowly across the floor.

I looked around and had one of the most surreal experiences of my life. I was sitting through an actual earthquake. My dresser seemed to be jumping up and down off the ground a few centimeters. The mirror in my room was violently hitting the wall. A few of the books in my house came crashing to the ground. And sadly, along with a few other picture frames, my University of the Pacific diploma fell to the floor.

Looking back, it is a bit worrisome I did not remember what an earthquake drill was. I am lucky that I did not have anything heavy on the walls around my bed, or I could have actually been seriously injured. Even more worrisome, however, is the fact that I have come to terms with it. Even if I remembered what I was supposed to do during an earthquake, would I be able to carry out those deeds if it happened again?

The day after the earthquake was when I started to realize how detrimental a 30 second, 6.0-magnitude quake can be.
On Sunday evening, I received a phone call from work stating not to come in on Monday because the office buildings had been damaged. I work for the County of Napa’s Health and Human Services Agency. About half of the buildings on the NHHS’s “campus” are actually portable trailers. Most of the trailers had been pushed off their cement foundations and were now uninhabitable for workers. I am lucky enough to work in an actual “building”; however, when the earthquake hit, items such as file cabinets, computers and printers were knocked to the floor.

Even more frightening is the extensive damage done to the buildings of downtown Napa. The old courthouse, which is famous for its sculptural integrity, now looks as though someone took a bite out of the corner of it. Some people lost their homes. Other people have been pushed out of their jobs for temporary periods of time.

This past week, various volunteer groups have convened to provide disaster relief to citizens in need. This past Tuesday, when I was cleared to return to work, I observed volunteers handing out food to people in need. Earthquakes such as the one in Napa prove there is still real human compassion in the world.

Yet the earthquake also showed me that even as a working adult, I honestly still have no idea of how to handle a natural disaster. Natural disasters have always seemed to just be tragedies I would see in the news — until one happened so close to home.

From one Pacific Tiger to another, please at least read up on how to truly protect yourself from an earthquake. Do yourself a favor and get educated, so you don’t sit in complete shock like I did when the floor begins shaking beneath you.

For more updates on the Napa Valley earthquake or how to protect yourself from one in the future, check out

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University Of The Pacific's Newspaper Since 1908