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Quake leaves residents shaken
"In the first seconds of Wednesday morning's 6.8 magnitude earthquake, many people sought other explanations for the rumble they heard and the shaking they felt.Those driving vehicles worried something was wrong with their cars or peered into their rearview mirrors to search for the semi-truck that must be fast approaching.People inside buildings thought the culprit was loud music, an airplane, children or a passing vehicle before recognizing they were in the middle of an earthquake.Reaction here varied from fear to excitement to worry. But everyone had a story to share. To the north Federal Way resident Julie Michels, who was getting a business license in Tukwila, briefly thought vibrations from railroad tracks she didn't know about were causing the shaking.After she realized she was in an earthquake, she dove under a table and tried to calm her child and a child who was separated from his parents. It wasn't easy.Other people were not quiet. They were scared and they were letting it be known, 'Oh my God. Oh my God,' she said. I'm trying to make light of it, saying, 'It's all right. We're just going for a little ride.' In North Seattle, that ride shook the table where Joann Piquette and Lincoln High School graduates were stuffing envelopes with information on their upcoming reunion. It swung the chandelier hanging above the table and catapulted china out of a cabinet.Piquette caught on faster than her former classmates, even guessing it was about a 6 magnitude quake.I was the only one. I leaped up and stood in a doorway, she said. I don't know what happened to the rest of them. I kept thinking, 'How long is this going to last?' It kept going on, getting stronger.She arrived at her Federal Way home to find books knocked off of five shelves and three coffee pots from her collection laying in pieces in front of her china cabinet. She and her husband, Bob, couldn't find their cats for a while; both had hid and needed a fair amount of coaxing before they were lured out.Shaken on the job The 10:54 a.m. quake caught many workers in offices, including employees at the St. Francis Medical Clinic. While stunned patients looked about or ran outside, and workers at the appointment station dove below their desks, clinic employee Rose Lahue was rooted in the middle of the clinic's foyer. I just stood there and everything was shaking and I felt like I was floating, Lahue said. This one felt like it was going to last forever until the building collapsed on me. Fortunately, the building held up and everyone was OK, said co-worker Jenny White, whose heart rate jumped as she huddled under her desk. Things slowed down in more ways than one following the quake. With phone lines jammed, it was difficult to make office calls. And many patients who were able to traverse the phone system called to cancel appointments because they were stuck in traffic, White said. Jammed lines meant employees at the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce had a quiet day after the quake as well, said chamber president Delores Shull. Employees at the chamber ran to stand in doorways when things started shaking. I was excited about it because I had never been in one before, said employee Brooke Rackley. However, that excitement soon turned to two hours of worry as Rackley attempted to reach her boyfriend, who is studying in Bates Technical College's diesel mechanic program. She finally was relieved to hear he hadn't been injured under an engine or by debris in the shop where he studies. At the Akasaka restaurant, everyone moved from inside the building to the sidewalk along Pacific Highway South, said owner Chong Yi. Yi, who was driving when the quake hit, feels fortunate that the quake was deep and caused more of a rolling motion here than a severe shaking. We are very lucky, he said. Not much damage. At home in Federal Way Betty Kelsey was in her living room when she heard the airplane-like rumble of the earthquake. She nervously noticed the way a beam in the living room shook and hurried to stand in a doorway.A lamp hanging by a chain above her kitchen table swung back and forth and she felt a rolling feeling, as if the ground beneath her would collapse, sucking her and her house into the earth.All I could think of was where's my family and do they know what to do, she said.She turned on her television and watched KOMO 4 Breaking News footage, she was interrupted every few minutes by family members calling to make sure she was all right.Oh, I'm still shaking, she told one caller. Federal Way resident Irina Kosivk initially thought her small children were doing something to cause the house to shake. When she realized it was a quake, she grabbed her kids and ran outside sans socks or shoes. I ran in the street and looked at the buildings and the trees swaying and I just prayed, Kosivk said. Field trip to Olympia When 11-year-old Cole Bixenman heard the grinding metal and saw sheets of dust and chunks of plaster falling inside from the Capitol building in Olympia, he knew an earthquake had struck.Once it just kept going and I heard everyone screaming I knew what it was, he said. All of Olympia, everyone was outside.Cole, who was on a field trip to the capital with his fifth and sixth-grade class from Lakeland Elementary School, said he and most of his class kept calm during the 40-second ordeal.Lakeland teacher Brenda Ely was halfway into the building tour and took her class up to the House of Representatives' visitors' gallery located above the chambers when the quake hit. Just minutes before the quake, a tour guide had talked about how a 1949 earthquake left the large chandelier in the rotunda rocking for two weeks.It started to rumble and roar all around us, she said. The kids thought I'd prepared some kind of simulation for them but I started telling them, 'Get on the floor and cover your heads.' Lakeland fifth-grader Hillary Dirks said she and her fellow classmates hit the floor trying to get cover beneath wooden benches in the chambers but the space was so tight, no one fit.When I looked up at the chandelier and I saw it rattling and the plaster falling from the ceiling I didn't know if I should run to the doorway or crawl under a bench, she said. Then people started scrambling for the benches. It was a tight squeeze.Once the tremors ceased, Ely quickly took count of her students and rushed them outside the building. Dozens of others had gathered around the lawn outside the capital as well.Most of the pupils handled the situation well, Ely said, and no one was too shaken up. They listened and followed directions and responded, she said. They were all super about it.While her field trip ended abruptly, Ely said she has no plans to return to Olympia this year. One trip a year is enough, but this trip is likely one her students will never forget.They saw the crack in the dome and the pillar, she said. For most of them, this is the only earthquake they can recall being in for only being 11 to 12 years old. Local lawmaker scrambles Sen. Tracey Eide also was in Olympia, close to the earthquake's epicenter, when the quake hit. Sitting in a caucus on the third floor of the Capitol building, she heard a big boom and thought someone had bombed the building. The floor rose and fell as the entire Capitol building moved. Someone yelled, Under the table.I looked up and I saw marble and I looked down and saw this table, she said. It's a beautiful table. It looks heavy. But you know what? It looks like I'm going to be hiding under a toothpick compared to all the marble above my head.As she crouched under the table, Eide prayed, terrified she would be killed by falling marble. As soon as the shaking stopped, security guards led the senators from the building. They ordered the women to remove their heels, afraid they would slip on sand-like marble granules that littered the floors.Eide returned to the Capitol Thursday to retrieve her purse and the flowers her husband, Mark, had sent for their 25th wedding anniversary, which was Wednesday. A guard escorted her to her office, where she found a mess.Pictures had broken. Books lay on the floor.It looked like a cyclone hit it, she said.Session is out at least until Monday while officials gauge whether the building is structurally sound.Shaking schools At Decatur High School, where the building sustained some minor damage, students were on their first lunch period when the quake struck.Principal Gerald Millett grabbed the intercom seconds after the quake began and told students to remain where they were.I was signing time sheets in the office with my secretary, Millett said. She looked at me and her eyes got bigger than mine and she said 'earthquake.' Millett said the swaying was strong enough to tip his computer monitor left and right and almost knock it off his desk.His experience in Wednesday's quake landed him a telephone interview on CNN late that night and early Thursday morning.I just told them that our school is safe and the things we did to ensure that, he said. I also wanted to make sure I thanked everyone and the students for the job they did following directions. Everyone was great.In the air Judy Creel of Federal Way was one of thousands of airline passengers delayed or diverted following the quake that damaged the main control tower at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The airport closed immediately following the 10:54 a.m. quake. When the quake was announced on the plane bound for SeaTac, passengers began scrambling for their cell phones, only to be told they weren't allowed to use them on the airplane. Creel's flight was diverted to Spokane, then Salt Lake City. They loaded us into the hotel, and it was snowing, and I thought, 'If there's a blizzard and we can't get out, I'm never leaving home again,' she said. Reaching home wasn't easy with the jammed phone lines, so the passengers and crew members from the Delta Airlines flight shared news from friends and relatives as they got it. Many of the men gathered in the hotel bar to watch CNN for updates, she said.Creel didn't make it home until noon on Thursday. Her trip from Orlando, Fla. began at 6 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday. --------------------- Quake at a glance* Wednesday's earthquake hit at 10:54 a.m. and was centered 35 miles southwest of Seattle, according to the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo. It was the strongest to hit the Washington state in 52 years. * Despite the 6.8-magnitude, damage and injuries were relatively minor, which experts attributed to the quake's depth. About 75 people were treated at hospitals from Seattle to Olympia, none of them for critical injuries. Three people were treated at St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way. * The quake temporarily shut down Sea-Tac International Airport, knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of people, cracked the dome atop the state Capitol in Olympia and briefly trapped about 30 people atop a swaying Space Needle, 605 feet above the city. * Experts said the earthquake's depth - in a fault about 30 miles underground - spared the Northwest catastrophic damage. Gov. Gary Locke estimated damage at more than $2 billion on Thursday. * The quake was felt in Vancouver and other parts of British Columbia and in southern Oregon, 300 miles away. * U.S. Highway 101 buckled in places northwest of Olympia, and another road nearby was closed by a mudslide. * Amtrak suspended train service between Portland and Seattle until tracks could be inspected. Source: Staff and wire servicesBreakout 2 Earthquake magnitudes are calculated according to ground motion recorded on seismographs. An increase in one full number - from 6.5 to 7.5, for example - means the quake's magnitude is 10 times as great. A quake with a magnitude of 6 can cause severe damage, while one with a magnitude of 7 can cause widespread, heavy damage. A 5.0 quake struck the Puget Sound area in 1995. A 6.5 earthquake hit in 1965, injuring at least 31 people. In 1949, a 7.1 quake near Olympia killed eight people. The quake that struck Los Angeles in January 1994 caused an estimated $40 billion in damage and killed 72 people. It was a magnitude-6.7. For more information, check out the U.S. Geological Survey website at http://www.usgs.gov or the U.S. Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center website at http://neic.usgs.gov "