February 27: Mardi Gras celebration in my neighborhood breaks into a riot. One killed.
February 28: 6.8 magnitude earthquake
April 17: My employer implodes
July 22: I start my new job
September 11: United states attacked
Oh and the Mariners were on track to a rare winning season until baseball (and the rest of everything else) took a major break to deal with the break in September.
The Mardi Gras celebration was an annual thing. My neighborhood became the hub of the drunken action. The party started early and generally ended before breakfast the next day. But, in 2001 things got wildly out of control. Windows were broken all over, cars crushed, fires started, and people beaten - one to a pulp in the block next to mine.
On my walk to work the next morning I had to dodge the workers replacing broken plate glass with plywood, and in some cases, already, replacement glass. Everywhere was trash and mess and broken stuff.
As people came into work, that was all the talk. Our offices were on the 8th (top) floor of a 100 year old building. About 11 am it started to shake. Big time. The guy in the cubicle next to mine ran to the nearest door and blocked it completely screaming 'EVERYONE get to a doorway!!' There weren't enough doorways - most everyone went under their desks. When the shaking finally stopped we walked down the stairs out onto the street.
Everyone in the building and the surrounding buildings gathered in the middle of the street. Cell phones were new and everyone who had one was on theirs but no one had a signal. We could see bricks falling off of buildings and hear sirens everywhere. It was freaky. After a bit, they moved us all to a parking lot a block away. We had to all stay together while they took a head count. Still no one could get through to anyone on the phone.
Finally, since I could see my house, I asked the counter person if I could go home and see how bad the damage was and he said sure. There was no electricity. I found my way in the very dark to the stairway and started up. There were two guys in the stairway who were totally lost. One was a realtor and one was there to look at a code. I told them to follow me and I'd give them a flashlight.
Once I hit my floor, I had to go to a door and feel the number on it and then count down to my unit. The two guys were still behind me. And then I couldn't get my door open. There was a big bookshelf now on the floor blocking. The two guys helped me wedge in and get that out of the way. The flashlight was right by the door and, miraculously, the batteries worked. So I gave it to them and instructions on how to get out and off they went.
My house was trashed. The furniture was pretty much all fallen over. TiVos and TV were crashed to the ground. Crap was everywhere. The computer was fine (whew) and nothing was leaking, dripping or on fire. So I just left all and went back to my work friends.
I told them about the mess and how bad it was and now they all assumed their houses were flattened. We could see buildings around us with missing bricks and big holes. It was all pretty traumatic.
But, as it turned out, my neighborhood had really gotten the worst of it by far. Most of the rest of Seattle was barely bruised. Not only that, but my unit was one of the few that had any damage at all. My friends at the end of the building one floor below had one slightly bent lampshade. A woman down the hall had a trash can turn over. Wild. One woman at work did have what turned out to be significant damage. She had pink and purple fake potpourri in a basket on the back of her toilet. It fell over and the toilet water splashed out. By the time she got home the dye had stained her tile so badly that she ended up having to replace it! I always think of her when I see that stuff for sale.
For the next couple of weeks the neighborhood game was 'so was you damage from Mardi Gras or the earthquake?' My own damage turned out to be just messy. Only one Tivo was damaged at all and it was the oldest. There was (and still is) a dent in my kitchen sink and a crack in one bathroom floor tile. I consider them Earthquake Badges of Honor.
That's the last big earthquake we've had in Seattle. I've only felt a couple of others since and even they have been years ago. We're way over due. Ugh.
To Be Continued