Thoughts on the quake

Record Editorial.

  • Friday, October 3, 2008 4:09am
  • Opinion
Thoughts on the quake

Isn’t it amazing how 40 seconds of shaking can change a person’s perspective. Who was the first person you thought of as the quake struck? Was it a spouse? Maybe your kids?

Standing in the doorway of the Valley Record as things were shaking all around, of course my first thought was of Karen (Hey, this is going to get me big brownie points). Working together for five years – 15 feet from each other – if something major happened, you instantly knew the other was OK. Now she is in Bellevue, working in a two-story office building and frankly, if the shaking was that bad here, it could have been 10 times worse in Bellevue.

The second the quake stopped I tried calling her on my cell phone. No luck, not working. Then I tried the land line, and appreciatively heard her voice on the other end. Whew, one less person to worry about; but then what about the kids? To be honest, I was less worried about my kids than anyone else in the family. They were in great hands at Chief Kanim, and I had full confidence in the staff to keep them safe.

I hope all parents in the Valley felt as comfortable as I did about the safety of their children. Heck, we just completed major upgrades to many of the Valley schools, much of which included seismic retrofitting and bracing. It’s likely the schools in the Valley are some of the safest places to be.

So after thinking about the kids, my next thoughts went to my parents and brother. No matter how many fistfights we got into as kids, there was a slight hint of concern for him and his family. But after several more phone calls, everyone was fine.

Isn’t it amazing how this instant flood of concern about family and friends can make everything else in life seem trivial? Did the day’s work pressures instantly get overridden by concern for the family? Don’t tell my boss, but in my case, yep, the check requests, budgeting and other business tasks gave way to assuring that all the employees here at the office had a chance to check with their loved ones and in many cases, make a quick trip to check on things at home.

The quake also made me realize how ill-prepared we were. No batteries in the flashlight, no backup water, nothing but soda pop in the fridge. No idea where the water shutoff, or gas shutoff were, and above all else, no film in my camera (Usually very important when sleuthing).

And the list of casualties from the quake are adding up. The biggest loss will likely come as a result of the closure of the Falls Hill. I am concerned about the impact it may have on the tourism trade in the Lower Valley as people realize they can’t easily drive down State Route 202 or 203 to get to the Falls. I hope that someone is thinking about FEMA money for the business impacts that may arise.

In addition, the historic City Hall, or as many of us know it, the old bank building, will be coming down soon. Heck, I had my first savings account at that bank when it was still a branch of Seattle First. I hope the city identifies some kind of preservation path to get a similar building built or take advantage of the insurance money to build something of significance in the historic district of downtown. I have full faith that Mayor Fletcher will do what is in the best interest of his constituents.

So be prepared, the next shaker is coming.

Jim McKiernan


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