Friday, April 18, 2008

What was THAT???

By Lonnie Cruse

I posted my weekly blog post for today much earlier and am now yanking it in favor of a new post. Think of this as a: "We interrupt this program" sort of a break. I'll re-post that one next week.

I woke up around 4:30 AM this morning to find our bed shaking like crazy and nothing of a romantic nature was going on. "What are you doing?" I demanded of my sleepy hubby, figuring he was fixing the covers to suit him yet again or trying to get his restless legs to settle down. He swore he wasn't moving. Then I realized my dishes on the curio shelf were rattling. Never a good sound. EARTHQUAKE! They last only a few seconds, but it feels like a lifetime.

Back in February I came home from a mystery conference in Alabama to find everything covered in thick ice and huge trees everywhere felled by the extra weight. Much of our area looked like a war zone, and much of it still does. Many trees still sport the scars of broken limbs and many large trees still lay across yards as it's been too rainy/windy to drag out the chain saws. Cleaning that mess up will be ongoing for quite some time.

Recent rains have brought the Ohio River far above flood stage, to the point that part of our historic Massac Park is closed off with water over the road and over the most popular picnic and play area. I miss being able to walk there and am watching for the water to recede. Sand bags are in use everywhere to keep the water away from homes and businesses. Wednesday as I drove across the I-24 Bridge that connects Metropolis, IL to Paducah, KY, I noticed the bean field beneath the Paducah side of the bridge was covered for acres and acres with high flood waters. That isn't unusual in the spring, but the water was white capping in the strong wind, like a huge lake. Don't remember seeing that before.

Some of our high water came from severe storms that included tornado warnings. Sigh. We can't seem to catch a break, weather wise. I'm listening to news reports and many people thought the earthquake was a tornado, given that we expect strong storms later today and things were rattling around inside and outside their houses. An old building in Louisville, quite a distance from us, lost huge amounts of bricks off the front, and somewhere in Indiana a bridge is partially closed due to pieces falling onto the road.

Living in the Midwest is not for sissies, folks. Ice storms, floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes are common. And scary. Something we never get used to. So why do we stay? Our families are here. We can't all afford to relocate. Where would we go? California, and risk falling into the ocean? Not much choice. And frankly, we never think the damage will hit US. The funnel cloud will hop over us, or the water won't get that high in our yard. Optimistic to a fault. And that's the New Madrid Fault, by the way. Y'all have a nice day.


Sandra Parshall said...

It's scary all over, Lonnie. In the east, we have hurricanes, ice storms, flooding, violent thunderstorms that spawn the occasional tornado, and the threat of terrorist attacks (I live two miles from the CIA! Yikes!). Yet I confess that I often wonder why anybody would live in the dangerous midwest!

Anonymous said...

Lonnie, years ago I had a teeshirt that read: "New Madrid: It's OUR fault!"

Loved that shirt :)

Janet K, who has a B.S. in geology

Auntie Knickers said...

Glad you're OK! I lived in the Upper Midwest for 30 plus years and now am back in Maine, which does seem a little safer just because the hurricanes don't usually reach us. But watch out when they do! And we've had (very small) earthquakes and isolated tornadoes here as well. Really there is no place perfect.

Kathryn Lilley said...

Wow, my sympathy on the earthquake. Those are really scary. We have so many faults running through SoCal that no one seems to keep track of them except the seismologists. But when a larger one hits, my Dad's old advice comes to mind, "Fill the bathtub with water!" I also did this during 9/11, even though we live near the beach on the opposite coast from NY. I don't know what you're actually supposed to do with the water when an actual emargency hits, but I always fill up the tub!!

Anonymous said...

Lonnie, Maybe you southern Illinois folks aren't behaving yourselves! All kidding aside, although I didn't feel anything here in the west suburbs of Chicago, it did get me to thinking. Just last week I was listening to the news and heard that scientists were worried about a series of unusual earthquakes off the coast of Oregon. They were far out in the ocean, so not felt on shore. They occurred from April 7-14, and scientists thought that a high amount of stress in the earth's crust was causing them, but didn't know what was causing the stress. Did that stress come our way? (read about it at and shows the astounding amount of quakes all over the world in the past 7 days)
Think of it this way, writers get some of their best material from personal experiences, and you have had more than your share of ones related to weather. We will all just have to wait to see if any of it makes it into your next book.
Mary Beth

Julia Buckley said...


In 43 years of living in Chicagoland I've never experienced an earthquake, and when it finally happened this morning--I slept through it! And so did everyone else in my family. To be honest, I'm sort of disappointed. I wanted to know what it felt like.

I'm thinking though, that even if I'd been awake, I would have assumed that the rattling was caused by the el, which is right by us and always shaking the window frames.

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Lonnie, I'm glad you and your family are safe. I don't think there's any place to hide. Look what has happened in Manhattan...on the beach in the American Antarctica in the past few years. The first time I ever visited Northern California, I shared student housing with some seismology grad students near UC Berkeley, and I learned a lot about earthquakes, including the fact that people go about their business in places where they're bound to happen sooner or later. I remember writing a poem imagining the people in Pompeii, a couple thousand years ago, going about their business on the slopes of Vesuvius. One day at a time.

Sandra Parshall said...

I heard on the news that the earthquake was felt all the way down to Georgia, but it must have bypassed the DC area. I'm glad it was nothing serious. Now you have material for your writing without any longterm consequences.

Lonnie Cruse said...

Hello all and thanks for your comments! Kathryn, as to the bathtub of water, we filled ours during recent storms when the electricity went off (which shuts off the well pump and leaves us without water) so we'd have water for washing our hands or flushing the toilet. Came in quite handy.