Sunday, February 27, 2011
Nisqually quake 10 years later
Not quite fresh in my mind but I do remember where I was when it hit. We were doing a floor job in a residential in Tacoma. We had just set up a full containment and donned the moon suit and PAPR respirators and were about to rip out an asbestos kitchen floor when all of a sudden the whole house felt like somebody had lifted it up by 2 feet the dropped it. Then the shaking began. My coworker suggested I at least step in the doorway for protection. We peered out the load out flap to see the car in the driveway move forward and back about 5 feet per shake. This lasted for about twenty or thirty seconds. The supervisor hollered to hold tight until the shaking stopped. We finished the job and I drove the truck back to the shop. The trip back was eerie to say the least. There was almost no traffic on the road even at 4 o'clock in the afternoon the start of rush hour. Tuning the radio stations gave very little info as to the damage. But when I got back to the shop all the owners and estimators were rushing around. I said "what's going on"? They said they were busy rounding up work. Nothing like making hay while the sun shines or something like that at least for a haz mat company.
Yes we did get quite a few jobs from that quake and I think it was a bit of a wake up call to all the vulnerable buildings in the Puget Sound area. We dismantled the control tower at the airport, did numerous clean up jobs where asbestos fireproofing had fallen from structural beams and other various related jobs . I think with all the overtime it was more than enough to cover the cost of my new computer but working 14 hour days was no picnic.
There is a lot that can be done to lesson the damage. Nothing we can do will prevent all the destruction. Nature always wins in the end but we can make it survivable. A few thoughts on that:
1. Shut off your water there's 40 to 50 gallons of usable water in your hot water tank if it doesn't get contaminated.
2. Shut off the gas. It 's a simple valve near your meter. You turn it clockwise until it's indicator line is perpendicular to the pipe. Check it out before a disaster happens.
3. A good first aid kit is handy even without a disaster.
4. Don't try and use a charcoal grill indoors no matter how cold it is outside or with the windows open.
5. Assume that there will be no help for as long as five days after a quake. We saw that with New Orleans.