Were you here for the Nisqually Earthquake, 15 years ago today? New info on getting ready for the next one

15 years ago this morning, at 10:54 am on February 28, 2001, the 6.8-magnitude Nisqually Earthquake hit. Here’s some of what it did in West Seattle.

Nothing anywhere that big has shaken us since. But someday, sometime, one will. So we’re talking today about being ready. This map can help:

The markers on it – 13 of them now – show you the sites of West Seattle Be Prepared‘s 13 Neighborhood Emergency Communication Hubs. Find the one nearest you – and make sure everyone you care about knows about it. (If there’s not one near you, you can help launch one.) If a huge disaster hits, and the usual communication channels are cut off, these are places you can go to find out how to get help, how to offer help, etc., as explained here (and in even more detail here).

Our area was a pioneer in the “hubs” movement, which has expanded to other areas of our city, and is expected to continue growing. They’re for everyone, whether you’ve been here days, weeks, years, or decades – next month, for example, a hub-training event is planned for one of our area’s bigger new apartment complexes, as the hub in The Junction is finalized, and if it’s successful, it will be repeated for other interested apartment communities in the area.

Being ready, ultimately, is personal – have a kit, have a plan. This isn’t something someone will do “for” you. West Seattle Be Prepared is a volunteer community effort. We checked with its organizers to find out what else is new regarding local preparedness, as we mark the quake anniversary today.

This year, WSBP’s Cindi Barker tells us, is about partnerships and getting connected:

*They’re working with local churches about being partners in preparedness and in response in case it’s needed – including how to become a Red Cross shelter

*You’ll see WSBP at spring/summer community festivals as usual – starting with the West Seattle Bee Festival on May 21st and the Morgan Junction Community Festival on June 18th

*In June, WSBP will host a Business Continuity workshop for members of the West Seattle Junction Association, Barker says, “to teach our local businesses what a Business Continuity Plan is, why it’s important and point them to free-ware so they can either do one with us at a follow-up brown-bag event, or so they can do it on their own.”

*Also in June, some of the West Seattle hubs will be part of a major citywide drill on June 11th, “in loose conjunction with the big Cascadia Rising regional exercise” (which is happening June 7-10th, playing out the scenario of a megaquake/tsunami)

*Potential fall event related to what Barker says “is a training program being released this summer for local medical clinics and personnel, to teach them about their important role in the communities during a disaster.” As she says, the bottom line remains, they’ll be needed!


*Are you a ham-radio operator? Know someone who is? The Auxiliary Communication Service needs more in West Seattle to become part of the team. E-mail seattleacs1@gmail.com

*Part of a SNAP (Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare), Block Watch or CERT group? Put yourself on the citywide map to get connected!


*Along with the West Seattle Be Prepared website, WSBP has a Facebook group.

P.S. If you didn’t know – there’s an online seismogram at Alki Point; you can check any time for recent quakes around the region by going here.

20 Replies to "Were you here for the Nisqually Earthquake, 15 years ago today? New info on getting ready for the next one"

  • Deb B February 28, 2016 (10:21 am)

    TR – The Morgan Junction Community  Festival is actually on June 18, 2016.

    • WSB February 28, 2016 (10:24 am)

      D – Thanks, fixed.

      Ace – Thanks for sharing your story. I was at South Lake Union, interviewing for the job I eventually got at Q13 – they would not have had a crew in the studio at that time except that they were preparing to cover a city news conference about the Mardi Gras violence the night before. I made it home before WSDOT closed the Viaduct.

      • valvashon February 28, 2016 (1:57 pm)

        I was on the top floor of the old Public Safety Building, setting up a portable microwave system to bring that press conference to Q13.  At 10:54 am, it was all set up and I was in the conference room itself, seeing if the camera was on, checking in with the microwave receive operator, etc.  The shaking started and since this was my first earthquake (being a midwesterner) I didn’t know exactly what was happening at first.  There exists videotape of me and others running around in the conference room in a panic.  I eventually found myself sitting up against a wall, amazed at how much this building was swaying back and forth.  It seemed to go on forever.  I looked up and noticed that I was sitting right under that big, wooden carved city seal that was in the conference room.  I’m truly amazed that didn’t come down on my head.  As the KIRO reporter was shouting “take me now, take me now” I went out to see if our microwave transmitter was still pointed in the right direction.  Before I got out to the roof top from inside, I was told to head directly to the stairs.  I had to really convince the official to at least let me out to shut the thing off- to leave it on for days and days tying up one of our two receive sites was not going to be OK. I had our big satellite truck with me at the time and started working my way south, hearing that there was much damage in the Pioneer Square area.  After much calling out on the two-way radio I finally got hold of somebody at the station and got a good intersection to head to.  I do remember giving a ride to an AP reporter, in violation of the station’s “No Riders” policy, figuring that we were all in it together on that day.  Like others have said, mobile phones instantly became useless that day and I was very grateful to be in a vehicle with a satellite phone.  A veteran reporter from L.A. was flown in, and we did live reports for stations around the country for two days.

  • AceMotel February 28, 2016 (10:22 am)

    I was in bed with the flu.  As soon as the shaking stopped, I got in my car and drove from West Seattle to Capitol Hill to make sure my child was OK at school.  The freeways and streets were eerily quiet, deserted.

  • Alan February 28, 2016 (10:50 am)

    I was downtown in the Museum Plaza building, which has since been demolished and replaced by the expansion of SAM. Many wanted to get outside, but windows were falling out of buildings onto the sidewalk. Once outside, everyone pulled out their cell phones only to find that the towers were overwhelmed.

    Traffic getting out of town was a nightmare. Someone on my bus had a bicycle on the rack. I’m not sure why they didn’t ride it, as they would have been able to move more quickly through traffic. This point was proven by someone that was able to walk up, remove the bicycle and ride off with it. By the time the owner and bus driver realized what was happening, the thief was gone. 

  • Bonnie February 28, 2016 (11:04 am)

    My son had just turned 6 months old and I was changing his diaper.  I scooped him up, half on diaper and all, and ran to the hallway not knowing what to do.  Luckily the shaking stopped.  the only damage we had was two champagne flutes from our wedding broke when we opened the china cabinet.

  • miws February 28, 2016 (11:55 am)

    I was working at the Seattle FilmWorks/PhotoWorks retail store at 35th & Fauntleroy, (the space where ‘Zaw Pizza now is). Alone in the store, sitting at the desk. 

    Felt a rumble, and looked out toward 35th to see if a big truck was going by. Didn’t see one, so then realized; earthquake. There had been one about two or three years previous, the same scenario I was sitting at the desk, and by the time I realized  that was a quake and started to crawl under the desk, it was over.

    Decided to just ride this one out, but after several seconds it was still going, so finally did crawl under the desk, for the remaining duration.

    No damage in the store, I think one or two picture frames may have fallen over on their display shelf, but no breaking or cracking of merchandise.

    A few minutes later, a guy comes running into the store in a bit of a panic, to buy a 35mm disposable camera, to document the damage in his house. He described the TV tipping over and ending up on the floor, other stuff falling, and other damage. He was very close by, I think up on/around Dakota St, just off of 35th. 

    Odd how the fault lines run, and how there can be such a disparity in damage (or not) in such a relatively small area. 


    • Alan February 28, 2016 (12:13 pm)

      One of the more apparent damage disparities involved brick chimneys. There was an east-to-west line through WS of fallen chimneys. I believe it may have been along Hanford, but my memory is fuzzy on the exact path You could go a block or two north or south and not see much damage, but through that stretch most of the chimneys were down.

      • WSB February 28, 2016 (1:09 pm)

        The link toward the start of the story, “here’s what it did …”, is specifically about the chimneys, in fact. – TR

        • Alan February 28, 2016 (1:26 pm)

          Oh, thanks and sorry! I hadn’t followed that link. I hate it when I provide people helpful links that they ignore!

  • JanS February 28, 2016 (12:24 pm)

    I was  halfway through giving a 2 hour massage to a client. My office at the time was in the basement of the house at 42nd and Oregon that now houses a Blue Geisha Tattoos.  The noise from the quake was unbelievable, and the walls were kind of undulating. I headed to a doorway, told my client on the table he was on his own – lol..and ultimately saw more than I wanted to see.  When it stopped I went upstairs to the antique store that was there to check on them. They were fine, scared, but not any significant damage. The sun was shining, traffic was moving, and I finished the massage. I had more damage at home in the Admiral District than there.Still have cracks in the walls here.

  • JanS February 28, 2016 (12:31 pm)

    There is an app for Android phones called MyShake. It gives information on a map as to where the most recent quakes have been up and down the west coast. Older ones are stored. It also has a sensor that uses the accelerometer in your cell phone to detect quakes, with a graph.It’s very sensitive and really only starts working when your phone is stationary on your desk, etc. It runs in the background, and doesn’t both you. Kind of interesting. The map can tell you the size of the quake, whether there was shaking, and if so, what the intensity level was. SoCal is loaded with little quakes most of the time. Not so much here. iPhone app is coming soon, they say

  • annika February 28, 2016 (1:58 pm)

    Thanks for posting about the earthquake app, Jans.  Just installed it on my android.

  • Gina February 28, 2016 (2:21 pm)

    I was at pre-architectural wonder Central Seattle Public Library downtown. Registering a woman for a library card. She looked up from her application and asked if a subway ran under the building. The train tunnel runs under 4th Avenue, but the vibration was the wrong direction. Some kind of memory of 1965 kicked in, told her it was an earthquake. Pulled out the chairs and garbage cans at the desk, and called out that we should take cover.  The fluorescent light covers were falling off the ceiling at that point. After the bouncing of the floor stopped I saw the computer was still working, asked the woman if she was okay, and would she like to continue the card registration. She thought that was a good idea, and she wanted to sit for awhile, and they never had anything like this in New York.   Books were knee high on the floor in the stacks. 

  • Waikikigirl February 28, 2016 (3:06 pm)

    I was at work location 2nd Ave. So. & Dakota St. right next to the railroad tracks thought it was a train going by but then my computer monitor started shaking and co-workers outside my office started yelling “its an earthquake”!!! we all just sat there it stopped and we kept on working.  

    But the sound sure did sound like a train was going by :>)

  • Casey February 28, 2016 (3:11 pm)

    I was on a boat, tied up at pier 55. All the deck plates started shaking, I ran off the boat and could see all the pilings under the dock shaking back and forth, violently. Looked up at the skyscrapers swaying, quite a sight. I was waiting for one to fall, then i remembered they are designed to sway like that and all was well. The office buildings emptied into the streets and all worked stopped so I took a walk about, to the market and back. It was fun to see all the humans scratching their heads, being reminded of the power of Mother Earth and that we are but flees. I was at the riot of mardi gras in Pioneer Square the night before, vivid memories.

  • JanS February 28, 2016 (3:32 pm)

    link to the app I mentioned above


  • datamuse February 28, 2016 (7:01 pm)

    It was pretty mellow for me. I was at home, my power went out and my cat freaked out and blamed me for shaking the house.

  • Penny February 28, 2016 (9:16 pm)

    I was sitting on a chair lift at Stevens Pass Ski Resort and the chairs were bouncing up and down and swaying back and forth.  On the drive home nobody was on the highways.  Very strange.

  • Ercolini Hub February 28, 2016 (11:18 pm)

    The Ercolini Park Hub could use your help! Anyone is interested in volunteering, please email ercolini@westseattlebeprepared.org.

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