June 30, 2017, 5:29 PM
The building began swaying back and forth, as if an enormously strong wind was blowing. There was only a light breeze outside. My husband, Scott, and I were reading in our tenth floor Cuenca apartment. We looked at each other, both saying “earthquake” at the same time.
There was no panic nor even any movement toward getting up from our chairs. We knew it was too light to be a problem for us. We were concerned about those living near the epicenter, wherever that was.
I posted on Facebook asking if anyone else felt it. It was my way to simultaneously find out how far the reach was and to confirm that friends were okay. Within minutes, I heard from people in various parts of the country. Most had felt it and some had felt nothing. Thankfully, no one was reporting injuries or damage.
Scott looked at his Sismo Ecuador application. The initial report was a 6.5 earthquake near Jama on the Ecuador coast, 331 kilometers from where we were.
|We were in Cuenca during earthquake, 331 kms from Jama|
Scott posted the following screenshot on the Ecuador Emergency Facebook group.
|Initial report four minutes after earthquake|
It was eerily close to the epicenter of the massive 7.8 earthquake on April 16, 2016 – the night that forever changed our reactions to even small earthquakes. I previously wrote about our experience that night. You can read it here. That earthquake left at least 676 dead, 16,600 injured, and thousands temporarily homeless.
We are no strangers to earthquakes
Scott and I lived less than seven miles from the San Andreas fault in the San Francisco Bay area for more than 15 years. We spent years guessing at the magnitude and epicenter each time there was an earthquake. It was a contest to see who could guess the closest.
We continued that guessing game/contest when we moved to Ecuador. Scott was often correct about the magnitude and approximate distance we were from the epicenter.
After our experience last April, we still try to guess but it is no longer a contest nor are we excited if we guess correctly. We are hyper-sensitive to what might be happening near the epicenter.
Minimal damage and injuries this time
The earthquake on June 30 was eventually revised down to a 6.3. Fortunately there were only five injuries, including one man who fell off a roof. Only one house collapsed (granted, if it was your house, it would be a major issue but only one is a good result for a fairly strong earthquake). No tsunami warnings were needed.
Aftershocks since April 16, 2016: 3771
The Latin American Herald Tribune reported that this was one of 3771 aftershocks since the 7.8 earthquake last April. There is no way to know when the aftershocks will end.
I know I speak for more than just myself when I say we are ready for the earth to stop shaking.
Do you have earthquakes where you live?