So, I was just on my way out today when the earthquake hit. I was in the bedroom getting some stuff together and AAH was standing yacking away at me when I felt trembling and heard that eerie, creepy kind of rumble that always accompanies earthquakes. AAH didn’t notice, just kept talking, until I grabbed her and made for the doorway, and we stood there while the house shook all around us. Polly flew up screeching, the door to the hall cupboard flew open and the little lantern I have hung up in the hallway started swinging alarmingly back and forth. This seemed to last forever.
The most scary thing about earthquakes I find is the absolute powerlessness you feel in the face of their hugeness. The second most scary thing is not knowing if it’s over. Is this it, or is there more to come? Or – is there something bigger on the way? The shock hits afterwards: HOLY SHIT, that was an earthquake, should I run outside – or what?
The phone rang immediately; it was EPI calling from work, but as soon as I picked up the receiver it went dead and there was no way to get a connection for the next 15 minutes or so, neither with a landline nor GSM. Connection soon resumed, but police and civil defence were asking people not to use their phones unless absolutely necessary, to keep lines free for emergencies.
Anyway, it soon transpired that the epicenter was near Selfoss, about an hours’ drive from here [as it was the last time we had a major quake, in 2000] and the quake was somewhere between 6.1 and 6.7 on the Richter scale [reports vary]. I had the radio on in the car and there were live reports from Selfoss, where the reporter was clearly very shaken. Thankfully there were no major injuries to people [one good thing about living in Niceland is that they’re sticklers about building standards over here] but as you can imagine there was a fair bit of damage – outhouses collapsed at farms so sheep and lambs had to be put down, things fell off walls and shelves, household items were smashed, there was damage to roads and bridges, and there were landslides in various places. For the longest time people were strongly advised not to go back inside buildings for fear of another quake; the hospital and seniors’ home were evacuated and shelters were [and have been] set up both in Selfoss and here in Reykjavík, for people who can’t or don’t want to spend the night at home. Some buildings [like the hospital] are heavily damaged, with deep cracks in the walls and such, so obviously remaining inside is risky.
EPI’s brother lives in Selfoss; EPI spoke to him earlier. Turns out nothing was damaged at their place except for one egg cup that broke, which must be considered lucky since their massive mutha of a stove [it’s got three ovens in it] actually moved about 5 cm across the floor. Also, EPI’s brother had just finished some stonework in front of the house [a low wall of some sort] which was flattened. EPI was kind of concerned that their turf roof would have slid right off the sides, which would have been kind of unfortunate – but he needn’t have worried, it remained firmly in place so they’ll be spared the experience of sleeping under the stars.
Meanwhile, seismologists have determined that a major aftershock is not very likely since there were actually two earthquakes this afternoon, rather than one [which presumably accounts for how long it seemed to last]. Note bene, this is not counting smaller tremor that happened both before and after, and are still going on. This will also have eased a fair bit of the tension, which means that the people of Selfoss whose houses were not damaged are now officially free to sleep at home tonight. The others will have to spend the night elsewhere.
THANKFULLY IT WAS A GORGEOUS DAY
So the peeps of Selfoss could pass the time outdoors this afternoon without too much trouble. According to the reporter I listened to in the car, where she was standing women had come running outside in their bare feet – they’d been in the middle of a pedicure at a beauty salon, while others were having their hair highlighted so had a head full of aluminium foil [wonder what their hair looks like now!]. It was another utterly gorgeous day, right now we have 10°C [50F] and sunrise this morning was at 3.30 am, sunset due in exactly an hour, at 11.22 pm.