Talk about shake, rattle, and roll. I'd just plopped down into our ancient recliner, put my feet up, and flipped on Bones when my ceiling started to shake. Boom, boom, boom, boom! I thought some 400-lb dumbass had climbed up on the roof and was running around. But then my partner came into the room and said calmly, "Earthquake." She was standing, so she could feel that the waves were coming from beneath.
I stood up, but the rolling sensation had already stopped, and the quake was reduced to minor shaking. A few things on shelves rattled; I went over to a bookcase and grabbed a Hard Rock Cafe hurricane glass that was about to topple off. This shaking continued for about 15 seconds, and then it was all over.
The earthquake was on the Calaveras Fault and registered a 5.6. The last big quake in the Bay Area, the Loma Prieta quake in 1989, was a 6.9. Certainly it was the biggest one I've ever experienced since moving here in 1997 (the year I was away in Spokane, there were no quakes of any significant magnitude). Now, it could be that this quake released a lot of stress on the Calaveras Fault, which will prevent a larger quake on that fault for a time (or, alternately, it could be a precursor to a worse one). Everyone's biggest fear is that it will undoubtedly cause stress changes along the Hayward Fault, which is predicted to go at any time. And it's predicted to be a big one, possibly rivalling the 1906 earthquake. Clock's ticking ... a hundred years have passed ... we're definitely due.
But it certainly reminded us to update our earthquake kits (we gave some of our emergency stuff away when we moved out of the area), to bolt bookcases to the walls, and to get art putty under loose glasses or items that can topple and break. At least we have renter's insurance that includes earthquake coverage on our household items. But coverage is so expensive here for anyone who owns a house, a good many folks can't afford it. It's a sad fact that those who need it most have to pony up obscene amounts of money to get any coverage at all because the insurance companies don't want to offer reasonably priced insurance for a castrophe that WILL HAPPEN at some point. So the rates are insane; people can't buy coverage and live praying that the big disaster won't happen. If it does, who will help them? FEMA? Uhhhh ... yeah, right.