I wrote to Kirsten Anderberg, a writer in California who covers a wide variety of issues, including earthquakes, after seeing her page on the Nisqually quake. You can read about her here, and sign up to get her articles, mostly about politics (in the broad sense), emailed to you here. She was living in Seattle at the time of the Nisqually quake, and I thought much of the story she told about it would fit nicely here, so I asked for permission to reprint. She kindly said yes, and here’s her story:
My son was 17 years old, and I had just left him at home and gone to work at the University of Washington Hospital. I was sitting at my desk on something like the 3rd floor of the hospital. When the building began shaking, people stopped what they were doing, and looked around. As the shaking continued, people assumed it was an earthquake. There were sirens that went off on the floor, as the labs and hospital were full of oxygen and all kinds of explosive things. The electricity went out and people began to move in the dark towards the stairwells to exit the building. Several hundred people were going down the stairs and when we finally got to the ground floor, we saw people who were in the middle of dental surgery being walked out with technicians holding all kinds of things hanging out of their mouths!
At the ground level, people were gathered around the hospital doors wondering what to do next. I left and walked home to my son, worrying about aftershocks. When I got home, my son had the transistor radio on, listening to news reports about the quake. Our home was a wood house and was fine, but my son and I were shaken up, as we had survived both the Northridge and Loma Prieta quakes at ground zero.