On Wednesday, the Feb 28, 2001, approximately around 10:50am, I was at work on 4th floor of the building I worked at. One of my friends from New Jersey called my on my cell phone. He was on the way driving to the bank and I was at work. I was talking to him over phone while sipping a morning cup of coffee. All of a sudden, I heard bumping noise. Few days before that, we had some construction/repair going on in the building, and I thought somebody must be back for further work. However, I felt a little shaky, as my office was at the corner by hall way and I was still on phone. I noticed few people running around, and that’s when the I didn’t know if the phone line was still on, I just put the phone in my pocket and came out of the office room. People were running around, one in my next door office, said, just stand by the door frame and not move around for few minutes. I did not know what was happening, I just went on the other side and myself going up and down the hallway having no control.
I went over to another office room where there people panicked. The door ways were crowded. As if I was dare enough, I was trying to support another person and have him move to the corner by the door frame. When it stopped for few brief seconds, we all rushed towards the door. Elevators were turned off, power shut down, it was dark inside the building except for those exit signs. We went to a stair way, and noticed the stair case was hanging on the lower floor. Damn! this doesn’t work, we went back up and looked for another stair way. Managed to climb down the stairs. As I remember, there was one handicap and one pregnant on the same floor. Few co-workers managed to get the pregnant woman down the stairs safely and so also the other person.
We all came out of the building. Now trying to connect the phone to call my friends in the same area. Phone lines aren’t going through. Tried calling a friend in NJ, didn’t work. It looks like he kept calling me as he learned when he reached the bank, that earthquake hit the Seattle area.
Talking to people in other nearby buildings, they say, our building was swaying too much, and some of them thought it was going to collapse. The building was strong enough that sustained the earthquake. For the rest of the afternoon, traffic was jammed all around. Some of us walked down to a nearby restaurant and then went home in the evening. Things were intact at my home, I didn’t have any furniture around so nothing damaged.
I went back to the building the following day, and noticed the kitchen area was full of soda cans. My book shelf was on the floor with books and papers all around. The security guards left us to pick up our valuables. Some of us picked up our computers to work from a different building. We weren’t allowed for other 3 days in lieu of fixing damaged walls and stairs.
That was my first experience with earthquake. I had always heard about it but never had experienced before. Though it was interesting and adventurous in a way but it was scary on the other side.
Some earthquake related numbers can be found here,
Seattle Times page on that day
This was exactly about a month after a disaster earthquake in western India (Gujarat , Jan 26, 2001) Wikipedia link