ashakeout stories Don Nielsen

Don Nielson

As the earthquake struck, I was preparing to watch the Giants. I immediately ran out
on our rear deck and saw two unforgettable things: the large oak trees in our back yard were
moving as in a big wind storm and second, I could see waves of a yard or so peak-to-peak
moving rapidly through the grass in our large back lawn. They were moving south to north!

When things calmed down, I went outside in our cul-de-sac to talk to neighbors. No
one had any real damage and, with the power out, we decided to have a meal together in
the street. We were joined shortly by a colleague here from Virginia for an award dinner
that was scheduled for 7pm or so that same night.

At some point, I dawned on me that SRI had a large power generation plant that ran a
good bit of the time to provided most of SRI’s power. Just maybe the award dinner wasn’t
cancelled as we had assumed because of no power. About 7:30pm I phoned SRI, (yes, I love
our landline) and sure enough the dinner was underway! We dressed quickly and made the
dinner before my colleague was to receive his award!

But the earthquake wasn’t through with us. Early in the following February after the heaviest
rain of the season, the huge, 4-trunk oak tree collapsed all across our substantial back yard.
I tried in vain to save one trunk and failed. It took $1500 to get it all out of our back yard.

No other significant damage, a working phone, and backup power at work. Life went on.