A 5.1 earthquake in Grays Harbor County on the evening of July 2, 1999, forced the county to spend $7.2 million repairing and retrofitting its courthouse.
Here are a few quake stories about it from, first, Marshall Baldwin, who was watching TV in his Satsop home: “It was bang, bang, bang and just before it ended the ground swayed. I could see my car out in the driveway bouncing around. It was pretty exciting really.”
Beth Watkins, a waitress at The Oriole restaurant in Hoquiam: “We had a couple tables, and we were doing some work in the back room. Then the floor just started rolling, and we ran for the door.”
Heather Churchill, a waitress at the Tokeland Hotel: “Everything else in the hotel was shaking, and then the cook yelled that we needed to go outside. It felt like you were in the ocean, rocking. I looked down and my feet were shaking from the quake. It was scary.”
Stacy Charette in Satsop said: “As the rumbling started getting louder, I thought train, and then I looked around and right then it hit me, ‘Earthquake.’
“We felt it real good. Things tipped over. I could see the walls moving, and I could hear the house creaking. I just wanted to grab my kids and get in the doorway. There was a lot of creaking. A few things fell off shelves.”
Jim Rutto, a maintenance man at the Best Western Lighthouse in Ocean Shores: “I was just about to get into the elevator when things started shaking and the doors started moving. And I thought to myself ‘I’m not getting in that. I’ll take the stairs.’”
Rick Wilkins was at Pier 66 in Grays Harbor: “The whole pier shook. Then people were walking around nothing happened. They looked surprised, then were real nonchalant.”
John Brooks, of Elma, which was about five miles from the epicenter: “It sounded like it was right under the house. It was almost like dynamite going off right outside your window.”
Mary Harris, also in Elma, said: “At first, I didn’t know what it was. It was a really loud noise. Then it just got worse. The house just started swaying, and I looked up and my fans were swaying. My house felt like it was buckling. It was just very scary.
“I went in the kitchen, and I could hear my cups rattling in the cupboards. The oven was shaking. It felt like the house was just going to fall down.”
Mark Simon, at the Bee Hive restaurant in Montesano, said: “I was giving cash to a customer up front, and the floor started flexing under my feet. Right after that, it really rumbled. People all got down and some were screaming. Bottles were falling off the shelves. It seemed like it wasn’t going to stop.”
In Seattle, Steve Gershik, a Bay Area man in Westlake Center, added: “I saw the fixtures in the mall moving. It was so incongruent. You don’t expect to come from San Francisco and feel an earthquake.”
The Seattle Times reported:
The roof collapsed at Moore’s Furniture and Appliances in downtown Aberdeen, sending debris into the building and onto the sidewalk outside. Owner Jim Moore, 47, said he had just closed the store and was pulling away in his car when the quake hit.
“When I think about it,” he said, “if I had only been just a couple of minutes later getting out of there . . ..”
In Mason County, a 911 dispatcher said the only damage reported was cracked walls and merchandise knocked off a local Safeway store in the Shelton area.
The Aberdeen and Hoquiam areas had power outages, some broken water lines, and there was a small gas leak in the county seat of Montesano.
The county courthouse in Montesano suffered extensive damage to Superior Court chambers on the third floor, and the bell tower on the fourth floor had a supporting brick wall that was dislodged, said Rick Scott, undersheriff for the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office.
“Right now nothing so severe that there’s a concern about evacuations,” he said last night.
The Red Cross began opening a temporary shelter for people in older homes in the area in the event that they want to go elsewhere for the night, Scott said.
The biggest concerns were around the structural integrity of dams and the cooling towers at the old nuclear power plant at Satsop, which is shut down. The dams and cooling towers seem to be structurally intact, Scott said.
Two inmates who tried to break out of the Aberdeen jail ripped a metal piece off a door and used it to smash several windows, police Sgt. Tom Siress said. But before they could climb out, a clerk noticed them on a surveillance monitor and alerted officers.
Some of the older buildings downtown appeared to have cracked walls or foundations and would have to be inspected to see if they are safe to enter, Siress said.
“From what I’ve seen, we have considerable major cracks to several older brick buildings,” he said.
In addition, he said, huge plate-glass windows shattered in some of the buildings.
Also, a 5.0 earthquake on January 29, 1995, was centered just off Maury Island, and didn’t cause either major damage or injuries. But it was the most prominent Puget Sound earthquake since the ’65 one. Scott Shabaz, who lived near Federal Way, said: “It started shaking the whole trailer. I have a rude friend that comes by once in a while and likes to do that with his truck. It lasted 30 or 40 seconds.”
Nancy Mendoza, spokeswoman for the Tacoma-Pierce County chapter of the American Red Cross, said: “I was in the kitchen talking on the telephone. The whole house started moving. Neighbors came running down banging on my door. People were right up on their porches almost instantly.”
And, in the aftermath of the Kobe earthquake, she warned: “Boy, if we’re going to get more of these, people should get themselves prepared. This is sure a wake-up call for people. We ought to seriously think about getting ready for an earthquake instead of worrying about it.”