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Some rain must fall

The local run runneth over.

Into each life some rain must fall. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Well, it’s been an interesting few weeks in northern Virginia. First the earthquake, then the hurricane, and now the flooding. Let the political jokes commence.

While my area of town hasn’t had the drastic flooding that some areas around D.C. are suffering, it was bad enough that my husband had to try three routes into the neighborhood (of three), before he could get home, and now we’re stuck until the water recedes.

My kids are excited because school is canceled. First week and they already want a day off. Jeez.

Given my history with natural disasters, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to find that this isn’t the first time I’ve been trapped in a flood, but you might be surprised to learn that the last one was in Arizona. Tucson, 1983, to be exact. The worst flood in the city’s history, which caused $64 million in damages and killed four people.*

All that with only 6-7 inches of rain over a five day period.

In a place where the ground is so dry that it can’t absorb the water, the desert floor acts like concrete, funneling water over land and filling the dry riverbeds and washes in, well, a flash. The washes didn’t necessarily overflow—though they ran high—instead, the banks crumbled sweeping away whatever sat on the land above.

So, here I am, trapped again by high water. But safe, surrounded by my family, and on high ground.

That’s all that really matters.

*Pima County Regional Flood Control District (

Quakin’ in my boots

Loma Prieta Quake, 1989 Third floor now at ground level in SF.

I had a totally different post planned for today, but then at 2:20ish the earthquake hit. Well, of course, now I can’t think of anything else.

It brought back memories of my very first earthquake—and boy was that one a doozy—the devastating Quake of ’89 in the San Francisco Bay Area (aka Loma Prieta Earthquake).

We had just moved to the East Bay two months before and I was an earthquake virgin. On that lovely October day, I was playing tennis with a friend on the high school courts when the shop teacher came running out of his metal shop and headed for the football field.

He didn’t say a word to us, but a few seconds later I was reaching for a ball when the net swayed. I stood up and realized I wasn’t dizzy, the earth was moving!

Not sure what to do, but figuring we were safe where we were, we just sat down on the court and waited it out. To me it felt like being on a big boat, swaying back and forth, and it seemed to go on for a full minute, though I believe the official time is shorter.

We had a steady diet of news for days, a kind of practice for the next fall when I’d be glued to the tube watching for news in the Middle East after my dad deployed. Aftershocks were common, and lasted well into spring.

After that year, I was a hardened earthquake veteran who barely blinked when the ground trembled. The only one that took me by surprise was during class one day. It was a sudden slam, and we all turned around to chew out the person behind us for kicking our desk.

My teacher speculated that it was an explosion of some kind. Nope, just another earthquake. Snore.

But, today’s quake was quite a shock. For one, it was in Virginia, and while no area is immune, this is the first one I’ve felt in the 4 1/2 years combined that I’ve lived here. Not only that, but it was pretty strong. My first thought was that the washer was on spin because it shakes the whole second floor, but the washer wasn’t running.

My son and I were already in a doorway—trying to remove the door in fact—so we just waited it out.

So, another first: my first earthquake on the East Coast. As long as no one’s hurt, I think they’re kind of cool. Just a little reminder that Mother Nature is more powerful than all of us, and every once in a while she has to stick out her tongue and say, “Neener, neener.”

Did you feel it? Got any earthquake experiences to share?

Photo credit: Loma Prieta, California, Earthquake October 17, 1989. San Francisco. An automobile lies crushed under the third story of this apartment building in the Marina District. The ground levels are no longer visible because of structural failure and sinking due to liquefaction. Slide I-8, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 90-547.