The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network summarized this mid-morning quake as “an eerie, 6.5-magnitude revisitation of the 1949 quake, centered again near Olympia, [which] caused the deaths of four elderly women who suffered heart attacks and three other persons hit by falling debris.”
Here are a few accounts published in the Seattle Times of April 29. First Space Needle Restaurant manager Basil Miaullis: “First we felt a bounce and than an oscillation–a whipping around. Everybody stayed put. There was no panic. No one ran for the elevators. And when it was all over, everybody finished breakfast just about as if it never had happened.
“John Graham, the architect whose firm designed the Space Needle, was here. He wanted to know how much the Needle swayed. It swayed a little more than it did during the big Columbus Day windstorm in October, 1962, during the World’s Fair. It was just like riding the top of a flagpole.
“The Space Needle has such a low center of gravity that it did not affect us as much as people might think. All we lost was a couple of bottles of booze. This place is built to take it.”
Mrs. Patrick Murphy, comparing the quake to the one in 1949: “This one terrified me, too. I couldn’t move. I just stood there, watching the telephone wires wiggle and my lamp fall off the television set, and then little cracks opened in the breakfast nook wall.”
Mrs. Warren Reynolds: “My son, Michael, 9, was in the bathroom, and he was too scared to come out. My daughter, Denise, 7, let me hold her on the bed. Bottles kept falling on the dresser, the mirror fell, pictures tipped over and the birdcase swung so violently it chipped the wall. That crazy bird is still chirping.”
After the Loma Prieta quake, Gordon Vickery, Seattle fire chief for this quake, remembered the collapse of a water tank at Fisher Flouring Mills on Harbor Island. He said of the tanks businesses around town had: ”Many of them shook off in the ’49 quake. The rest of them went in ’65. They were big wooden tanks on steel frames and the water sloshed them off. Harbor Island was all built on landfill. Those buildings are constructed on a bowl of Jell-O.”
Also, in March 2001, Tim Menees, an editorial cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, responded to the Nisqually quake by telling his story of living through this quake. He wrote:
In 1965, I was roused out of my slumber by the third worst [earthquake to hit Seattle]. . . .
My roommates and I, University of Washington juniors, living in an old Tudor-style apartment building, the main floor of which had been a college hangout when Mom had been a bobbysoxer freshman. I had a late morning class and we had been up late studying — or more likely out drinking beer. I thought Mike was shaking me until I looked over and he was sitting up in his bed staring back at me. Our building was creaking and a hanging sign outside our second-floor window was flapping back and forth.
When nature decides to get in our face, it seems to take its sweet time. In fact, Seattle’s latest assault lasted only half a minute. But when you’re standing in your underwear in an old doorway as your apartment building undulates around you and plates are crashing to the floor, you are not watching the clock’s second hand. You are focused on one thought: “Please, God, make this stop.”