So, if you were three years old, and right in the middle of dinner your house started moving first side to side in one direction, and then side to side the other way, what might you call it? I think Nora's "twist earth" pretty neatly sums up this evening's excitement: two quakes (6.7 and 6.4), coming about eight minutes apart, each seeming to go on longer than anyone here remembers a quake lasting (a minute? half a minute? three? It's so hard to gauge time when you're in the middle of one). After the first, we went out to the hall, heard lots of voices a floor below and headed down to trade stories with our neighbors who had gathered there: fish tanks sploshing most of their contents on the floors, vases falling off tables, books off shelves, small children freaking out. This was the inaugural quake for one of our new families, and for their parents who are visiting from the states as well. (Welcome to Taiwan! Hi! Hug a wall!) While we were all chatting, the second quake hit, and I headed inside an apartment with Nora to find a secure place to ride it out. Several moms hunkered down in the hall with their little ones; they started singing Jesus Loves Me, which was comforting except that it made me realize just how long the quake was lasting. I prayed. And prayed. It really went on and on. Once that one ended, many of us headed out to the lawn, to the relative safety of open spaces. Our building is exceptionally well built, conforming to California earthquake codes, as opposed to local standards (which, in practice, if not on paper, seem to only require that something metal (old coffee cans, rebar remnants) be--oh! we just had another one. Dashed to the hall with Tim and Cole (Nora's in bed), and watched things move. This is getting really unnerving. Eek. At least we're not on the 7th floor; they really sway up there. Cole asked, at the tail end of it, "Is the building still moving, or is that just my legs?"
We have staff families traveling over break to cities much nearer the epicenters of these quakes, and I can only pray that they're out of harm's way. (One more reason to stay in better hotels, eh?) Apparently two buildings collapsed after the earlier quakes, killing at least one person and trapping others. Not a lot of details yet on the English news sites. Please keep the people here in your prayers, that there won't be more deaths, and that the aftershocks subside soon.
We're fine, if shaken a bit. Tim says the last one was a 5.5, so at least things are moving in the right direction. I'll keep you posted.