At around 7:15am on Wednesday, March 18th 2020, a 5.7 earthquake hit Salt Lake City. The epicenter was approximately 3 miles from Magna, which is where I grew up and was approximately 2 miles from my home and another 2 miles from my work.
I was sitting in my work truck getting ready to start my day when I felt the truck moving up and down slightly. It was like someone had jumped on the back bumper and was bouncing the truck, messing with me. I looked in the mirrors and couldn’t see anyone and then the truck started shaking and bouncing violently. It felt like something had hit the truck in the back. For a moment I thought another truck had hit me, and hit me hard.
Then it was over.
I opened the door and saw my co-workers standing around, looking around, looking at anything and everything and I heard one of them say, “earthquake.”
I got out and made sure everyone was okay and checked my surroundings. The powerlines over our parking lot were still swaying a little bit. Otherwise, everything seemed to be okay. Traffic was still moving on California Avenue, and Bangerter Highway had the usual morning backup. Nothing seemed amiss.
I drove over to the gas station where we fuel up and that’s when I felt the first aftershock. It wasn’t anywhere near as violent as that first one, but it was unmistakable. And it was unnerving.
Everyone in the gas station was talking about it, it even topped the coronavirus stuff. Getting ready to leave the gas station I felt another aftershock. Much smaller than that first aftershock, but still noticeable.
I drove up to my first job and called my Dad to see if he was okay as he still lives in Magna. He answered and told me he was fine. He had been brushing his teeth at the time of the original quake. I asked him if he would drive past my house and check on the structure and see if any windows were broken or if the building was still standing. Maybe I was overreacting a little bit, but that’s what was going through my mind. That and my poor cats. I was wondering how they were doing.
About an hour later my work called and told me to come back to base. We were calling it a day. The earthquake had done sufficient damage to some structures that businesses and the government alike were telling people not to go into downtown Salt Lake if they could help it and to stay out of two story buildings or taller. We were being told to shelter in place. That’s what the alerts that went out over my phone said.
I got back to base around 9:15am and the power was out. Apparently quite a bit of the valley had their power knocked out. Some are still without power at the time that I’m writing this.
Driving home was a joke. Traffic was a mess, and not just because of the morning rush hour commute.
I got home around 10:00am to find my house a mess. Most of the contents of my freezer were on the kitchen floor. A bag of ice was melting there. Most of the drawers and cabinets were open, like someone had ransacked my house, looking for stuff to steal.
One cat was hidden under the bed. He came out with some gentle coaxing. My other cat had squeezed under my chest of drawers. Getting her out was something else.
My toilet had been leaking, there was water all over the bathroom floor, but with a little wrenching I got that fixed.
Since I’ve been home, there have been at least 4 more aftershocks. A small one while I had been fixing my toilet and three while I have been writing this. The last one was fairly decent. It knocked some things down that I had just put back in place not more than an hour ago.
The aftershocks haven’t been nearly as bad as the original quake, but I have to be honest, they are really unnerving. Things start to settle down and seem to go back to “normal,” and then boom…An aftershock hits and everything is uncertain again.
I don’t know how long these aftershocks will go on. I don’t know if they will go on for a few hours or if they will go on for days. Sleeping tonight is going to be interesting to say the least. That’s if I sleep at all.
One of the worst parts of this besides the not knowing if and when another aftershock is going to hit, is the fact that there is absolutely nothing you can do about them. You can’t prevent them. You can’t stop them. All you can do is brace yourself and get in a doorway. It’s freaky to say the least.
I’ve grown up with earthquakes. They aren’t uncommon in Utah. I’ve grown up hearing that we are “overdue.” Supposedly there is supposed to be a “big one” that could hit us at any time. One that is big enough that it could do serious damage to the entire valley. I’ve heard that my entire life here, and my parent’s heard it their entire lives.
I can remember several other earthquakes over the years, but this one is definitely one of the biggest in a long time. And those aftershocks… Those are what are bugging me.
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