Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Earthquake

Yesterday afternoon between 3 and 4 p.m. there was an earthquake in Java, Indonesia. I was in my hotel room on the 8th floor of a 32 story building in Jakarta. I had just stood up from the table when the floor started to shake. At first I thought I was having a headrush from standing up too quickly, but when I looked up at the window I could see that the building was swaying from side to side. Earthquake! I've never been in an earthquake before and the only thing I could think of was that in movies people stand in doorways. So, I ran to the bathroom door and held on. The scariest part was the sound. I could hear the walls cracking and the plaster falling off them them. It was loud! It probably only lasted for a minute or a little more, but it felt like a long time. When it ended, I wasn't sure if I was supposed to move. I heard the other ETAs (English Teaching Assistants-I'll write more about the Fulbright program soon) in the hallway and ran out to join them. We decided that we should try to exit the building. We found a sign that said "Evacuation Route" that led to the stairs. We started down. About halfway down we ran into some Indonesians who work at the hotel. They were waving their arms at us and yelling "faster, faster". Indonesians do not raise their voices. Ever. When they started screaming we knew it was serious. We booked it down those stairs. Everyone was outside. They made us wait outside of the building to make sure that the aftershock wasn't worse than the first hit. We had to stay outside for 90 minutes. The earthquake was initially labeled a 7.4, but was later lowered to a 7.1. Luckily, no one died in Jakarta, but people were killed closer to the epicenter (off the coast of Java) and one person did die in Bandung (where I am going tomorrow). It is kind of difficult to see in these photos due to the flash, but there were cracks in all of the walls of my room when I was finally allowed back up to it.

What an introduction to the natural disasters Indonesia has to offer! But, do not worry. I am fine and now I know what to do if it happens again. It is always better to be prepared!
I'll post again soon about orientation and what I've been up to so far! Until then...


  1. Oh, My, Gosh, SARAH!!
    When, I heard about the earthquake yesterday I couldn't believe it! I phoned Rebecca and my Mom to tell them. I so wanted to call your Mom but I think I was too scared! You cannot imagine how happy I am to read this blog entry of yours.
    Take the very best of care and be very safe!
    Love, Mary Ann

  2. I second the above. I burst into tears on the train this morning when I read about the quake and RAN to my desk to read this, so I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't posted. Love you and glad you're safe!!! <3 MK