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On November 30, 2018 I learned a new definition of mess and fear 🙁 Anchorage, Alaska had a big earthquake that was enough to do damage to many buildings and make a mess out of everything. Earthquakes and kids don’t mix for me. The earthquake occurred at 8:29 am and while most people where already up and about their day we will still in bed. In some ways this was probably a good thing for us as our bed was one of the safest areas in our condo. I have never been so scared and felt so out of control.
Have you ever been in a natural disaster with your kids? Tell us about it in the comments.
So for the last couple of months munchkin has been waking up in the middle of the night. We have no idea why, sometimes she wakes up crying other times she just wakes up. She would struggle to go back to sleep. Some nights she would just get up and end up playing for a few hours. Others she would go back to sleep but only if we brought her into our bed So we turned her crib into a toddler bed. We thought she might have just been done with her crib. Well she still woke up and started crawling into bed with us. We decided this was ok because she would just curl up between us and go right back to sleep. I have never been happier that she started doing this than I was that morning of the earthquake.
My husband was about to be getting up to get ready for work when everything started to shake. At first we thought it was just a minor shake and then it got worse. I automatically rolled to cover munchkin and my husband covered both of us. As the shaking got worse I was getting more and more scared. I was so scared that this was the next big one (first big one being the earthquake of ’64). All I could hear is things falling off the shelves and the shaking seemed to last forever. I hugged munchkin as tight as I could, if something happened to any of us I wanted her to know how loved she was.
Slowing of Time
Although reports say that the actual quake lasted less than a minute it felt so much longer. The reports do say that depending on the building you were in and where it could have lasted longer. As the quake finally slowed down we realized that the power had gone out. We sat up, found flashlights that we keep near our bed in case of a power outage and start to take in the reality of what just happened. We did our best to try and satay calm so that we did not upset munchkin. The mess around the bed was heartbreaking but at first glance it to not look like anything was broken.
First task was figuring out how to safely get out of our room to see what kind of damage was in the rest of the condo. We also needed to find a way to keep munchkin out of danger while we did this and keep her calm. First thing we did was give her one of the flashlights so she could see what was going on. Trying to keep her in one place while we checked things out was not easy, after we checked the bedroom area and my husband brought me shoes we all moved to the living room.
Damages and Clean Up
Once in the living room we figured out how much damage/clean up was needed in each room. We were happy that there was no structural damage and no injuries to human or feline occupants. I felt a little relief but as everything we needed to do sunk in so did my depression. I had to fight those feeling so that munchkin did not pick up on them.
I had called my parents house to see how they were and found out that my mom was on her way over. She figured we might need a hand keeping munchkin occupied while we did some preliminary clean up. We lost about half our drinking glasses and a couple of mugs. So in the kitchen there was a lot of glass to deal with. I worked on the living room and bathrooms while my mom was over. Because we have our emergency kits done we had a corded phone to plug in (good thing because the cord got ripped out of the cordless one). We also had plenty of flashlights and things to do. We also had plenty of water and food so that helped just in case power was out for awhile.
Luckily we try to keep her tablet and phone charged so we had something to keep her occupied. I also remembered we had purchased a portable DVD player for our trip to California. I was able to find it and it still had some battery power so we could put in a DVD for her. It ran out of power before the lights came back on but she had her tablet. Power came back on in about an hour so that was nice. After a couple hours mom headed back home to help with the little bit of clean up that needed to be done. By this time we were able to let munchkin play in the living room safely.
Finding the Cats
So during our initial scan we also worked on doing a cat count. We have 4 cats and we wanted to make sure we found them all and that they did not look injured. Kurious, Sekhmet and Misfit were easier to find. Diogi (our expert hider) was a little more difficult but we did finally find him, then he found a new hiding spot so we did not see him till dinner time. We were very relieved that none of them were injured and as a minor blessing we had fed them at 8:00 so they had been fed before all this happened.
Food and More Clean Up
After our initial clean up we figured it was time for breakfast but what to do. My husband’s first thought was find a restaurant but it will still too soon for any to have opened back up. We decided on waffles since we had power. As the day went on we cleaned and tried to stay calm and positive. This was hard because of all the aftershocks. Poor munchkin would run to us with every aftershock saying she was scared. I felt so bad, we made sure to let her know it was ok to be scared and that we were scared also.
She refused to let us be out of sight (not surprisingly), mainly me. So when I needed to go into our bedroom to start clean up, I had to put a movie on our TV so she could stay occupied instead of “trying” to help. This worked pretty well, when my husband took a break he took her back out to the living room. By the time we were ready for lunch there were restaurants back open so we did take out for lunch and dinner. No one wanted to cook and we still had some clean up to do. We did make sure to take some silly time with munchkin … she found stickers while we were cleaning up.
To say it was a long day would be an understatement. Both my husband and myself stayed home from work to clean and be there for munchkin. We did not really get a lot of breaks trying to get things back in as much of an order as possible. As we started getting things cleaned up we started going back to our normal routine as much as possible for munchkin.
I was a little worried how bedtime would go. I did not know if it would be hard to put her to sleep and honestly we wanted her in our bed. There were still big aftershocks happening and we did not want her alone in her room. We did not know if she would be scared to sleep in our room since that is where she was. Happily she had no issues sleeping in our bed. I did not sleep very well between aftershocks and worrying about munchkin waking up because of them (she didn’t).
So the days following were still stressful because of all the aftershocks and some were big. I had made sure my husband anchored my bookshelf in the bedroom better. I did not want to put my books back up right away because of the bigger aftershocks, also good excuse to take inventory. Husband went to work and was quite busy (he is a cashier at Costco and they opened up the warehouse to everyone even if they did not have a membership for the weekend). Not only did you have people buying stuff because of the earthquake but it was also the first so you had your normal first of the month shopping.
We had over 2000 aftershocks just in the couple days after. This does not make for an easy time when you don’t know if you are feeling an aftershock or the beginning of a bigger quake. We did our best to get back to our normal routine and stay positive. I was glad I am off weekends so I could spend Saturday with munchkin like normal … there were a lot of extra snuggles.
Honestly being prepared and knowing that we had water and supplies and our go-bags if needed helped to reduce the stress of the day. We knew we had activities for munchkin, we had a way to charge phones if needed. Water and food were covered for both human and felines. We did not have to worry about getting water from the stores as many other people were doing that. We did find some things that we need to add or improve in our kit but they are more comfort items instead of needed items. Need to make sure there are a few of munchkin’s toys get into her go bag. Need to stock up on some snack options for everyone.
No one is ever completely prepared for a natural disaster, especially ones with no warnings. Having supplies and a plan at least can help you feel calmer and more in control. This was a scary experience for us all and now even 3 weeks later we get the occasional big aftershock. Those really suck because we just start to think that we are done with the bigger aftershocks and … NOPE one just pops up.
Why Write this Blog Article?
For me the main thing I hope you take away from hearing about this experience is how important it is to be prepared and have a plan. Make sure you know how to survive the natural disasters in your area and what types of supplies you will need. Make sure you have a plan for the kids especially if they are younger. If they are old enough to understand how to react then make sure you teach them and practice.
If they are too young what is your plan for keeping them protected. Make sure that there is nothing that can fall into/onto their crib/bed so that if they have to stay in bed it is a safe place. If munchkin had been in her bed and managed to stay put (my fear is that with her being scared she would have tried running to our room and that would have been dangerous) she would have been ok as nothing happened to her bed.
Love your children, trust your instincts on how to raise them and don’t be afraid to be different. Many out there probably think that we should not allow munchkin to climb into our bed every night and that we should make sure go back and stay in there. NOPE … that is not our style and I am glad it is not. Same goes with preparations. Some people may go “overboard” and stock pile for the end of the world and others may just have the bare basics and that is ok. Figure out what is right for your family and do it. Please make sure to tell your kids every day that you love them and give them a hug (if they want to). Make sure they know you are a safe place when they are scared, this will help them to let you know when something is bothering them.