Pastor: Earthquake Caused House to Move ‘Like a Boat on Rough Water’

SANTA ROSA, CA (August 25, 2014) — No injuries or significant damage to Covenant church buildings from the 6.1 earthquake that shook the San Francisco Bay Area early Sunday morning have been reported, according to Pacific Southwest Conference staff.

There are no Covenant churches close to the epicenter near Napa. The tremblor did cause numerous, mostly minor injuries and severe damage to some buildings in the community.

The largest earthquake to hit the region in 25 years shook a lot of nerves among Covenanters elsewhere in the Bay Area, however. Scott Peterson, pastor of children’s ministries at Redwood Covenant Church in Santa Rosa, emailed the following account:

Since I’m originally from Minnesota, earthquakes have been in the novelty category for me. In our 20 years of living in Sonoma County, we’ve felt numerous small quakes that last two to three seconds. The largest quake we’ve felt until this was a 4.2. Because we’d never felt a major quake, we have not yet gained an appreciation for how devastating they can be.

At 3:20 a.m. we were awakened by a large explosion. This is how most earthquakes start. It sounds and feels like a large truck has smashed into your house. This was a huge truck. Then you get either a shaking or a rocking/rolling motion. I jumped out of bed; my wife decided to stay put.

I grabbed my iPhone and filmed our chandelier, hanging on a seven-foot chain. It was actually swinging almost twice as much, but by the time I figured out how to stop taking still pictures and get it into movie mode, the rocking had calmed down quite a bit. Earthquake clip

The entire house was moving like a boat on rough water and it made me nauseous. Outside across the street I could see my fellow staff pastor Corey Johnsrud’s house moving around like it was on water. The street looked like waves. It’s incredible and horrible to watch. I could hear blinds banging around and dishes clinking. I could especially hear our old fence creaking and groaning.

Thankfully, the only thing that happened to us was it knocked over a set of nested Russian dolls. The power went out at church, setting off all the alarms. Our building facilitator arrived to find the only damage was to some ceiling tiles and several metal rings surrounding the sprinkler heads had fallen on the carpet.

Had the earthquake been just seven hours later we would have had a full building. Each year our children’s ministry team does practice an earthquake and fire building evacuation. Our nursery is equipped with special reinforced evacuation cribs that will hold several children, which can then be wheeled outside. We meet in a safe designated area outside to reunite kids with parents.

A few of our congregation members have relatives in Napa. They report houses being a complete mess inside. The most common reports are unsecured bookcases being tipped over, dishes and picture frames falling on the floor, and appliances being moved.

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