I went to the University of Washington to get my masters degree in library science. The university has a beautiful library called the Suzzalo library. It has the soaring ceilings and beautiful woodwork required of old libraries. Before I attended there, the library school was housed in the basement of this building. How cool would it be to go to class here everyday?
Alas, it was not to be.
Oh, I still went to grad school, but my classes were not in the Suzzalo library. They were mostly in a white-painted cement cavern of a classroom in another building.
We weren’t even allowed in the Suzzalo library.
You see, Seattle is in an area that does occasionally have earthquakes. Not very often, but geologists do predict that a ‘big one’ could hit the Puget Sound area some time. So the Suzzalo library was closed to be retrofitted for earthquake tremors.
I was about three weeks from finishing my degree when I read about the geological history of the area and likelihood of a big earthquake hitting the area. While it would be interesting to experience an earthquake, I would gladly pass on the big one. Since we were planning to move back to the relatively safe Midwest as soon as classes were done, I was pretty sure we would miss any large quake.
About a week later, I had just turned off the shower when I heard a rumbling. Two large labs lived in the apartment above us and their running could shake the floor. At first I suspected that they were playing, but then I realized that the tub itself was flexing. It didn’t take me long to realize that this was an earthquake. I grabbed a towel and dashed for the bedroom, where the blinds were swaying parallel to the window as the building rocked back and forth. The rolling seemed to last forever, but it was probably about thirty seconds.
Since we were packing to move, we no longer had any pictures on the walls and suffered no damage. The library I worked in at the university had one book fall off the shelves. Another campus library had several shelving units tip over.
The quake at the epicenter was a 6 on the Richter scale. It had probably diminished to a 4 where I was. It was enough to get the experience of an earthquake without the panic and terror.
My husband was closer to the epicenter which was on the south end of the Puget Sound and was also in the bathroom during the trembler.