Monday, October 11, 2010

Earthquakes, here and there.

For some reason it seems we have had our fair share of earthquakes, both in Mexico and Greece as well as some minor rumbles in Japan, and even in Milan.

They are frightening, but I remember the funny stuff, which is usually a relief after you realize that you are still alive.

Our first was in Greece in 1964, on the island of Evia, our first night after visiting relatives in Edipso. They were upset that we had checked into a hotel and not stayed with them. At about 5:30 in the morning the room started shaking and the thick wooden door was bowing as if it was made out of cardboard. Jeannine leaped out of bed, naked, and started yelling at me to get up and get out. I evidently was very cool and told her to wake me up when there were cracks in the walls, besides I said “If it was serious, my cousin would come and get us”.

I am pretty good at major crises; I fall apart over small things.

Jeannine finally got me up, we dressed and started to go downstairs, we found my cousin in pajamas and slippers running upstairs, I guess it was serious.

The rest of the day was spent pretty much out doors reliving the quake and waiting for the aftershocks that were sure to come. They came, quite a few of them. Edipso, had about 30 yards of sidewalk, it was, after all, 1964.
A woman was on the sidewalk and when the aftershock came she fell off the 6 inch curb. She managed to do the sign of the cross three times before she safely hit the ground; I guess doing the sign of the cross works.

The next earthquake was a very serious one in Mexico, in 1985, really catastrophic, 8.1 - enormous. One of the most serious to hit a major city, we lived in an area that did not suffer any major damage, but we did bounce around quite a bit.

We had some guests, actually from Greece; I figured they knew about earthquakes. When it hit, it was morning the kids had gone to school, safely, to another area that was not affected. We all ran out of the house, the maid, her daughter, my wife and my friend’s wife, all on the lawn away from the house, waiting for Nick. The door finally opens, and there in the doorway is a naked Nick. He takes one look at everybody on the lawn and runs back in the house. After what seemed like ages, he comes out with pants on, but also a cup of coffee. A Greek without his coffee cannot start the day, unbelievable.

That earthquake has many stories, not funny, but very touching. The people of Mexico City reacted in an amazing way, civilians
helped each other, unfortunately the authorities were slow to respond.

The next earthquake was Athens in the 90's, it was bad, but after Mexico it did not seem so bad. My office was on the 6th floor and we had three floors to our company. I was in my office with a colleague, when the earthquake hit, he immediately dove under my desk, correct action but not if the desk is a glass slab. A rather sheepish Andonis came out when I reminded him the desk was glass.

Everybody got out safely and we all congregated at the snack bar across the street, cell phones were put to great use. Everybody was OK, especially after we ordered drinks.

My wife walked over with our hysterical dog, which by now had calmed down. He evidently had relieved himself about twenty times on the way over.

I know how he felt.

Earthquakes and Greece seem to go together like octopus and ouzo.


  1. Well told. Something I have never experienced to that extent. The ones in N. Y. are few and far between and just a boom and very light shaking. Good thing too as I live near the "Ramapo Fault" which runs directly under the "Indian Point" nuclear power plant. Brilliant place to build it. No?

    Glad I never had that experience. From what I here it can be terrifyng.But, like you, I would probably roll over and go back to sleep.

  2. Mexico City! WoW that was an experience never to be forgotten or repeated. As we all stood in our PJ's and wrapped in blankets in case debris fell on or around us in our garden, all the telephone polls and electricity cables were swaying back and forth and in on each other snapping cables as they did so and releasing small fires in the street. In the real center of the city, buildings pancaked ,like decks of cards too horrific, and the city and the people in shock...16,000 people died but could have been more..some said 20-30,000 who knows.