Humboldt County Earthquake Account From McKinleyville

Note from Doni: Friend Sunnie Noellert replied to my email that checked how she, her husband James Theimer and their golden retriever Murdoch were after Saturday’s earthquake that rattled their McKinleyville home. McKinleyville is located in Humboldt County, 5.25 miles north of Arcata. 


We’re OK. But this took earthquakes that I’ve experienced to a whole new level.
James was watching his beloved Jets in their playoff football game when, with two minutes to go and the Bengals driving, the earthquake struck. No more Jets.

Because we were upstairs we felt the effects even more so than if we had been on the ground level. It was literally impossible to stay on your feet and keep your balance. The house was moving! And it lasted for quite a while.

Now, quite a while probably translates to about 20 seconds, but when it’s happening, it seems like forever. It was very dramatic.

We did a cursory inspection of the house and things seemed OK, but it got dark fairly quickly after the quake, so we’re going to look closer this morning. Thank goodness the windows didn’t crack or break. The structure is made to move, but the windows aren’t. They’re fixed. But thankfully the steel moved and took them with it.

We were without power, phones (even cells, because they were jammed up with too many callers), and Internet for several hours after the event. But we have those luxuries this morning. James was able to get some limited news off his Blackberry. But it’s amazing how addicted we’ve become to instant information and communication. The withdrawal is severe, especially during an “event”.

It was a most dramatic quake because it had that “slamming” element, when you feel like a semi ran into the wall of your house; and it had that rolling wave element, which is hard on the balance and most disconcerting when you see the walls of your house “waving”.  But this time I also experienced a “swirling” sensation that was brand new to me. A sense of liquefaction.  Fluidity where there should be none.

Anyway, here’s to terra firma staying firm.
Murdoch took it all in stride.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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5 Responses

  1. Randall R. Smith Randall R. Smith says:

    Lewis Chamberlain called at 1700 on Saturday from Ferndale to inquire if his Redding home was hurt. Apparently, Trinity Alps give us some protection from these coastal events. Last week's USGS report had several local small Central Valley quakes. Only the Shadow knows!

    Glad Sunny and James are ok. We need them to finish Redding School for the Arts and Riverfront Playhouse, etc.

  2. Avatar Linda Boyden says:

    I was getting ready to go to Art Hop when my youngest daughter, Maeve, called from Cottonwood asking if I had felt anything; that she thought there had been a quake. I hadn't. Went back to hair & makeup when my older daughter, Rachel (Happy Valley) called to say there had been a quake; their porch wobbled and that it happened in Eureka where my son, Eamon, lives.

    We couldn't get through for a bit, but then did speak to him. He & his family were visiting his in-laws in Ferndale and had headed for home when it hit. He said it felt as if he had blown a couple of tires, it was that hard to stay on the road. Luckily, their home was fine, some minor problems. Phew, good end of story.

    BTW, Art Hop was great.

  3. Avatar sam says:

    i was at work there was no nothing to hide under. All i could do was stand there. covering my head. bikes were fallen off the racks. All i could do was think of was my 12 year old son at home by himself. The earth quake was not even over and i had called my neighber that was with my son to make sure he was ok. he was fine just shaken up. i tried again 10 min later but i could not get through. thanks god we all are fine.

  4. Avatar marie says:

    My eldest son lives in Eureka along with 3 of my grandchildren and my 20 month old great granddaughter. My son called me within minutes of the quake to let me know they were all o.k. Damage at home & at workplace was not severe but a mess to clean up after broken glass, upended and fallen things. He and others were very lucky! I, in Shasta Lake felt nothing. As native Californians we've felt earthquakes before but they are definetly always scary!

  5. Avatar Linda Schreiber says:

    I was at home in Anderson lying down to rest with my feet up for a while and the bed started shaking. I was on the top floor. I thought it was my dog scratching. Dee was in Redding came home shortly after and asked me if I felt the earthquake. Oh, It wasn't the dog.