The bulletins were terrifying: a powerful earthquake had struck off the coast of this Central American country, spawning a tsunami warning and bringing fears of widespread catastrophe. I was in the water and felt something abnormal, almost like some type of whale or shark was trying to surface underneath my board, while Lyndsey and the kids were on the beach feeling the grunt of it. Sometime around 8:42 Wednesday morning Costa Rica’s Nicoya peninsula was struck by a 7.6 magnitude earthquake.
Immediately after feeling the quake Lyndsey gathered the kids together and headed back up the hill to the house. She said the beach started cracking and that trees started falling as the ground continued to jolt harder and harder for around 45 seconds. I was unaware of what happened and stayed in the water for a few more waves before heading back up the hill. As I walked back to the house there were a few families of howler monkeys in the trees acting a bit more unusual than normal but I didn’t think anything of it. Once I reached the bottom of the driveway I noticed that there was a bunch of people gathered on the hill, one of them even tried to strike a conversation with me yet I had no idea what was going on until I approached the house and saw Lyndsey packing the car slightly panicked. She informed me of the tsunami warning and told me that we had to get out of there.
Suddenly everything started to make sense, the neighbors horses being loud and running around their yard that morning, the monkeys all acting up howling to different families up and down the coast, the pressure of something hitting the bottom of my board in the water and all the people gathered in the driveway. The maid was cleaning up some things that had fallen or broken in the house during the quake and I could tell she and Lyndsey were pretty fired up. After taking my verbal scoldings from both of them, I began to pick up from were Lyndsey had left off and started to put together our important things. I think that they both thought that I had taken so long because I had some crazy inclination that I was going to ride a tsunami, oh well – the truth of the matter was I had no idea what was happening.
The place we are staying in is up a hill and maybe 150 meters from the tide line. We are off of a road that climbs up to higher ground so we can get higher if need be pretty easy. The thing that had me concerned was how the rest of the town and country was taking it. A 7.0 devastated Hatti few years back and quakes not nearly as strong caused major catastrophes in Iraq, India, Mexico and other places around the world. If we just had a 7.6 things could be pretty bad I thought, what to do next.
The house took it pretty well considering some of the other places in town. The phone lines, power and water were out, we had about a weeks worth of food and three days worth of drinking water. We had another 300 gallons of useable water that could be purified in our water tank and a full salt water pool out front for cleaning. We had frozen liter bottles of water in our freezer, and frozen meats that would probably last around 3 days before they needed to be cooked.
The batteries in our Iphones and our laptops worked and the 3G internet was giving out a signal. We were able to check news bulletins and warnings to see what was happening around us. I was able to reach out to family members via the internet and sent out a couple of bulk emails to friends and family members telling them that we were alright plus I made a post through Facebook to update everyone else.
The tsunami warning was lifted by noon so we decided to stay at the house, not knowing how the roads or towns were. We made a back up plan to stay up in the hills at the farm I work at just in case another quake or tsunami warning went into effect. Needless to say that Lyndsey nor I didn’t get much sleep that night but things went back to normal pretty soon after the power was turned back on the next morning. It couldn’t of come at a better time, we were on the last 10% of our last labtop battery before we were going to have to check out.
This opened our eyes, and many others as to how sensitive we really are as a specie or a person. I read in the paper the next day that over 80% of the people who were admitted to hospitals were their because of nerves. When the ground starts moving underneath you and you have no control you have a real awakening of how small and insufficient you really are in this body.
We found out later that the quake was felt all over the country and in neighboring Panama and Nicaragua as well. The amazing thing was that Costa Rica suffered remarkably little damage from Wednesday’s magnitude-7.6 quake — a few blocked highways, some collapsed houses and one death, of a heart attack caused by fright. Officials credited the relatively deep location of the quake and building codes that Costa Rican officials call as strict as those in California and Japan.
The quake was 25 miles (41 kilometers) below the surface. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered about 38 miles (60 kilometers) from the town of Liberia and 87 miles (140 kilometers) west of the capital, San Jose. That means we were less than 50 miles from the epicenter.
The area is a seismically active zone where the Cocos tectonic plate dives beneath the Caribbean plate.
The quake was followed by three strong aftershocks of magnitudes above 4. The relatively little damage was due in large part to strict building codes in Costa Rica, a country that has long enjoyed more stability, better governance and stronger economic development than many of its Central American neighbors, said Olman Vargas, president of the national College of Architecture and Engineering.
As a result of the quake we have began taking more precautions and preparations for future surprises. We want to keep no less than a weeks worth of food water and supplies for the entire family. We are also restocking our bug-out bag with important documents, first aide supplies, batteries, water purifiers, and other survival equipment.