Shaken, but not stirred


The building of the deck begins.

By now you’ve all heard that we had a bit of an earthquake in Wine Country, Sunday August 24, 2014, at 3:20 am.  USGS has it rated at 6.0.    As I am a geezer, a San Francisco native and lived in the north Bay area for most of my life (except for 7 years on and off in Seattle, at which time I experienced 2 earthquakes), I’ve been through a number of the shakers, including Loma Prieta in 1989.  Nothing scared me quite like the South Napa (which is how this has been named) quake.  I was dead asleep, and it was pitch dark.  I thought a plane had crashed in front of my home.  When the house wouldn’t stop shaking from side to side, however, I knew it was an earthquake.  The noise was deafening, and it seemed to go on forever.   I was convinced my new home was going to come crashing down on top of me.

After the earth stop shaking (quake lasted only 20 seconds), and I stopped shaking (that took a bit longer),  grabbed my iPhone (love the flashlight feature), and started looking around.  Nothing on the floors, no pictures down, no broken glass, windows and doors intact.  As a matter of fact, the only things that fell off the shelves, were some lightweight cones of weaving cotton.  Ok, breathing gets a little easier, and heart starts pumping normally.

I saw flashlights outside, and went out to check on my neighbors.  Everybody was up, laughing nervously, checking on each other, and walking around our homes to look for cracks, and check to see if gas and/or water was leaking.  So far so good, meters not moving, and no smell of gas.  The park manager was up, and visiting every cul-de-sac to check on residents, and to look for gas leaks.  His report was that everybody seemed to be ok, and there was little, if any damage.

Back in the darkened house at 4 am, and I hear a “ping” on my iPad … oh, it’s my turn for Words With Friends with my buddy, Bob Olson in Australia.  I tell him we’ve had a big quake, take my turn and realize that I can use the iPad to log on … the net’s not down, just electricity.  I don’t feel so alone after that, but can’t sleep.  The sky lightens to pre-dawn and I realize I don’t have any ground coffee…must go to store.  It wasn’t coffee I really wanted…just people, being normal…and folks were talking, sharing experiences, which helped to lessen the anxiety.  Back home with ground coffee, made a cup, sat out on my deck and watched the day break.  With my iPad, I could check the PG&E outage site, and they said they expected our part of town to have power by 8:00 am …and sure enough, that we did.

With full day light, I walked around the house…looking carefully, and didn’t see a single crack, nothing at the base. Inside, no cracks in the drywall, all doors and windows open and close normally, floor feels very solid.  I realize that I am very very lucky.

Most of you who have read my blog know that I was not 100pct happy with the crew that built my deck…they took some short cuts I didn’t like and communication was not good.  They did, however, follow to the letter, the state code for the underpinnings of a non-attached deck for a mobile/manufactured home.  It passed the first inspection with flying colors (except for one cracked concrete pier block that I think they thought the inspector wouldn’t notice, but he did, and it had to be replaced).  The pictures below show those underpinnings.

During the construction, lots of my neighbors came by to watch and comment, and one jokingly said “well, I know where to go if we have an earthquake, because that deck ain’t going  nowhere!”.  The shaking I felt “from side to side” was from east to west, or from the prow end of the house to the back end.  The deck, I truly believe, acted like a barrier, and kept my house on its foundations.  Additionally, I paid to have extra earthquake bracing … just because I thought it would the right thing to do, and it didn’t add that much to the cost.

You all saw the pictures of the mobile homes in Napa that went up in flames because both gas and water mains broke during the quake.  That park, also a 55+ park, was built a few years after our park was built.  I can’t plant trees in my yard (nor can anybody else in this park) without letting management know because the underground pipes are not completely mapped out.  But one thing I learned today is that when there is some digging or construction in our park, they can, where possible, replace the solid pipes with flexible piping.  I really didn’t want to move the utility pedestal, if you will recall, but in moving it, the pipes connecting my home to the system were changed out for flexible pipes.

So, yeah, I went through the scariest earthquake in my life, to date, and am so very thankful that nobody I know was hurt, that their homes are intact, and that the folks that built my home did an amazing job.  I sent them a note on Monday to let them know that all was ok and to thank them for a sturdy home.


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