It was Wednesday about 9:20 in the morning of the 22nd of September, 2021. I was making a coffee. Suddenly the windows started clanging. The front screen door was banging as it was opening and shutting by itself. The apartment started swaying. No, it wasn’t a scene from a horror film. It was an earthquake. A decent one at that!
Three minutes later the messages started rolling in. My kids were busy on Messenger doing a family safety check. Two of them live in Melbourne, the other in Tasmania.
Did everyone feel it?
Me: Adam, Han did we just have an earthquake?
Han: It was a big one!!
Me: Yes Han, very scary. I’m still shaking. The apartment was swaying. You OK over there?
Han: Yes our place was swaying too!!
Me: It’s horrible. Adam, did you feel it?
Han: Are you OK? We’re fine! Maureen (my granny counterpart) was upstairs with the kids and she said she thought the things were going to fall off the walls. I feel like I’m still swaying.
Me: Really hope the kids are OK. Not scared.
Sarah: (in Hobart, Tasmania) What?!!!! Omg!!
Me: Han, I have the same feeling. My body doesn’t feel right yet!!
Me: It’s all happening over here Sare. It’s the place to be
Han: Haha!!! How weird!!!! No earthquake down there Sare?
Me: Adam, did you feel it at your place? Everyone OK? (no response).
Han: Maureen just spoke to Ken (her brother) and he said the house over the road from him has a huge crack in it now!
Finally a message from Adam at 10.32. He was in his chambers, on the 79th floor of one of the high risers in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD. As a barrister, he was just about to start a trial.
Adam: It was pretty shaky up in chambers
Han: I bet it was!
Me: Oh my Adam as long as you’re OK. Riots, lockdowns, earthquakes. What’s next? Exciting times.
Who’s going to fix the damaged buildings?
The timing of the earthquake could only be described as farcical. It happened two days after the government shut down the construction industry because of low compliance with public health orders. All construction workers are now in lockdown for two weeks. Given the ongoing riots about the situation this could go on longer. Meanwhile the earthquake has caused structural damage to many buildings in Melbourne and other parts of the state. These sad broken buildings need the kind of attention that only a construction worker could provide.
A couple of facts
This was the biggest earthquake Victoria had ever recorded. It measured 5.9 on the Richter scale with the epicentre close to Mansfield about 180 kms north-east of Melbourne. Although there was structural damage to quite a few buildings fortunately no one was hurt.
Quakes are relatively unusual in Australia’s populated east due to its position in the middle of the Indo-Australian Tectonic Plate, according to Geoscience Australia. The quake on Wednesday measured higher than the country’s deadliest tremor, a 5.6 in Newcastle in 1989, which resulted in 13 deaths. Reuters
Photo of two of my children, Adam and Hannah taken in 1987. After an earthquake? No, just looks a bit like it!