This photo is from yesterday afternoon. I wanted to start this post with this particular photo to help my friends and family who have not yet visited us yet rest easy. As you may be able to tell, that building across the street from my house is the fire department.
That’s where they have the disaster alarm. During a storm, I understand that the alarm is difficult to hear from many places in town. In my bedroom, it’s not.
The alarm went off shortly after 3am. I heard it loud and clear, but in my daft sleepy state, I just remember thinking “I wish the firefighters would stop making so much noise” and stuffed my head under the pillow. It was only after Layton got out of bed and looked out the window that I really understood what was happening.
I actually don’t think I’ve ever been so scared. The initial report said the earthquake off of Alaska was a magnitude 8.2 and a wave was imminent at 3:40. We made coffee. We moved mirrors and computers and televisions into places where they wouldn’t do too much damage in the event of an earthquake. We took the kids downstairs to the suite – Hobbes in the bedroom because he was SNORING – and watched (tried to watch – I couldn’t concentrate) Nanny McPhee.
I should mention – we’re at one of the highest points in Ucluelet, and are not in the inundation area. Outside, first responders were directing people who’d evacuated their houses. Sirens blared, lights flashed. We have friends who went to the high school – it’s one of the Community Safe Zones. There was an amazing amount of traffic for a tiny community in the middle of the night, but it didn’t look like pandemonium. We have such amazing First Responders out here, and they set my mind (mostly) at ease.
The next update advised us that the wave was imminent for 4:40. I don’t know whether it was a time zone error or an adjustment based on further information, but reading that was…honestly, absolutely terrible. I’d already been freaking out for half an hour, but trying to hold it together so that my 8-year-old daughter wouldn’t be scared, and I didn’t know how I was going to stay calm for another hour.
Well, I distracted myself with Facebook.
As hospital employees, we are both expected to make our way to work in the event of a disaster. At one point, we looked at each other and had to decide which one of us was going to make the drive to Tofino and which would stay with the kids. I’ve actually had disaster training, but Layton is far more useful to the hospital. We decided that once it was safe to travel, he’d go.
At about 4:30, they called off the warning. Sirens quieted, people went home. Our kids went back to bed (with the exception of sitting up and asking for his Pup, Hobbes slept like a log through the entire thing). I tossed and turned for an hour. I could hear Layton watching old episodes of Top Gear before work.
This morning, I am a zombie. School is on as usual, and Seville wanted to go. Hobbes was desperate to go to play school but he’s got a cold and I was able to talk him out of it. It might be selfish of me to want at least one of them in sight today.
There’s a lot of talk on the community board about preparedness. Are we prepared? How prepared? Where is the line between practical and paranoid, and how do you balance your life around it? From massive waves that destroy everything to power outages to 3am wake up calls, we’re in it as far as coastal weather events go. We haven’t been here long, but the call to prepare ourselves and still live freely and happily here is strong.
Today, it is raining. Yesterday it was sunny. What a place.