Monday, January 11, 2010


As most people know by now there was a large earthquake on the coast in northern California on Saturday (1/9/10) at 4:37 pm. It was centered about 20 miles off the coast of Eureka/Ferndale. My home and studio are both in Eureka. Since I am writing this you also know I survived, as did everyone else in our town. However, while my home is up about 20 blocks (which did receive some breakage and minor damage) from the coast, my studio is situated in the 'old town' area, and sits a block from the edge of the bay. Old Town sits on mud flats and fill. My studio is located on the 2nd floor of a 100 year old wooden two story building. I was in my studio with two other artists when the earthquake hit. While the quake registered 6.5 we were so close to the epicenter that it literally felt like an 8 or more. As one of my artist friends wrote in an e-mail after the event: "HOLY CRAP!". I think that says it all.

I'm a native Californian. I've been through many earth quakes including the big ones here in 91, one of which registered 7.3 and set a couple of towns on fire. With this quake, I and everyone else I spoke with felt it was the most powerful quake we had ever felt. Being on the 2nd floor of a wooden building certainly added to the sway created by the shaking. But our whole section of town experienced equal shaking, to the extent that some of the older buildings (1850's and above) received broken windows & structural damage. Luckily, like many wooden structures (just felt an after shock!) …… this building bent and moved violently, but maintained the integrity of its structure, gas lines, water pipes and all. My studio was a mess, but intact with little permanent damage. We were all very lucky. Below are some photos of the results of the quake in my studio.

Standing on the street (outside of our building) immediately after the quake, I and other artist's, and folks from the gallery below us, talked about things we should have done, and shouldn't have done to be prepared for such a disaster. So in a way this was a wake up call too. Its been so long since a good shaker. We've become complacent.

So while the terror and destruction are fresh in my mind, I'm going to change some things: Secure things better to keep things from falling, or coming open during the shaking; move breakables to a lower level; keep a flashlight, portable radio close at hand; maybe a drop down ladder to exit my 2nd story location; and put important things I need as I exit the building afterwords (like purse, cell phone, coat, etc.) in an easy to locate, 'grab and go' location.

Now that the shaking is (mostly) over, and my heart rate and adrenalin levels have returned to normal - its back to work, preparing for participation in some upcoming exhibitions, my small pieces for the daily painter's blog, up dating my web site, making travel plans for painting and photographing trips around California, and painting, painting, painting.

1 comment:

Marian Fortunati said...

I'm glad you are okay and that there was little damage to your property.

Having lived near the epicenter of the '94 Northridge earthquake, I can agree and empathize with you that it is an experience that one doesn't soon forget.