On The Matter Of Earthquakes and Easton
Easton People Reflect
Last week, on Tuesday, October 16, New England got hit with a relatively minor earthquake – as earthquakes go. The epicenter of the quake was in southern Maine.
Here in New England we do have faults deep down under the landscape where we live, but it seems they aren't as nearly unsteady and rambunctious as so many other “tectonically active” areas.
But, let me tell you, this past Wednesday I was over at WGBH TV in Boston on a business matter, and I had an opportunity to speak with John Ebel, Director of the Weston Observatory, and professor at my alma mater, Boston College, who was there that day to appear on a Greater Boston segment in which our earthquake of last Tuesday was discussed. He told me that our area has been hit with fairly big earthquakes. For example, a strong earthquake hit this area in the mid 1700s – and we could most certainly get hit again.
I didn't feel any tremors this past Tuesday. I did get in touch with some of my Facebook friends and former Easton residents and Oliver Ames High School graduates who have a bit more of an intimate relationship with earthquakes than I do.
Two of the Easton people live in New England, north of Easton, closer to origin of the October 16 earthquake, and two live out in the San Francisco area which is highly tectonically active.
Also, as well, on a very somber note, when I was putting together this column, and talking online with Easton people, it was discussed how in the 1989 San Francisco-Oakland earthquake, an OA graduate was killed. John Levanitis (OA '80), who grew up on Western Avenue, and was working for Hewlett Packard at the time, was driving on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge when the quake hit and the bridge collapsed.
John Levantis was the son of long-time Easton Public School teacher, Doris Levanitis, a favorite of Easton school students for many years.
Joe Povoas (OA '73), now retired from a career in compliance for major investment firms, has been living for the past five years in the San Francisco area with his wife, Kathy, an attorney and managing partner with the law firm Goodwin Procter.
“When I first moved here, I felt two very, very minor quakes, and I knew what it was immediately,” said Joe. “My wife was in law school [Stanford University Law School] out here in 1989 when that big one hit, and she said it sounded like large trucks driving by until things started falling off the shelves.”
Joe also mentioned to me the tragic death of John Levanitis and how John had been a paper boy who delivered papers to the Povoas family home on Sheridan Street.
Kristin (Hollis) Merriman (OA '84) lives with her husband, Greg, and their three children outside of San Francisco in the beautiful community of Mill Valley. Greg's family goes way back in the San Francisco area.
“I am such a wimp when the shaking starts; I just hide under the covers,” said Kristin. “Thankfully we haven't had a big one since I moved out here in the mid 1990s, but apparently we are due. The strangest part of the quaking and the noise you hear from below – all the rumbling and all.”
Kristin wrote me how her husband's grandmother – again his family goes way back in the area – was a year old and living in San Francisco during the cataclysmic 1906 earthquake, and the fire destroyed the family house. The family relocated to a cottage they owned in a San Francisco suburb.
Diane Richard (OA '84) lives in Chelsea, Maine, which sits on the east bank of the Kennebec River and which borders the state capital city of Augusta.
“Yeah, I felt the quake,” said Diane. “It originated from Hollis, Maine which is about 80 miles southwest of where I live. I was just hanging out with the family, and houseplants started to shake, and then the floors shook under us. I didn't really hear anything, but then again the TV and music were on. A weird feeling for sure.”
Kris (Bennett) LaBrake (OA '82) lives in Concord, New Hampshire. Kris felt the quake.
Kris wrote, “Yup, it lasted about 15 seconds. There was no doubt what it was. My husband, Matt, and I were standing in the kitchen and it started as a low rumble and then got louder and louder and stronger. It came in from the north and we felt it move along to the south. We didn't have any damage other than a few cracks in the driveway. I am happy I live in New England and not California.”
For sure, this region does not have much of history with powerful earthquakes – but it is very possible that we could experience one here.
And we must never underestimate the unpredictability and strength of Mother Nature.