Earthquake sways student body, community
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“I’m speechless. I can’t believe it. It was such an ordeal, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget it in my whole life,” an anonymous sophomore said.
Many students can recall the Great Kansas Quake of 2016 which occurred on September 3, that is if they were awake. But for the survivors who were awake or survivors who were possibly awoken, recalling memories of the northern Oklahoma 5.6 magnitude earthquake resurfaces heavy feelings of sorrow and fear.
“I have a big stack of books on my bed, and the top one fell down,” junior Benjamin Katz said. “I had to pick it up … it was Ender’s Game.”
Katz woke up to his entire room shaking. Having never encountered an earthquake before, he was disoriented and confused about what to do next.
“I woke up and there was shaking,” Katz said. “I was like ‘Woah, is this an earthquake? … Do I go down to the basement? No, that’s something else. Stop drop and roll is for fire. This bed is pretty comfortable … I’m gonna stay here,’ and I stayed there, and [the earthquake] passed. [It] seemed like a good decision. I would gladly make it again.”
Katz survived thanks to his quick decision making. Others, however, were not so lucky.
“Sometimes I think I died during the earthquake and I’m just living my life out as a ghost,” LHS junior Harry Easley said jokingly in an email.
Free State was not alone in experiencing the tremor. In fact, it is estimated that the earthquake affected the entire city of Lawrence. This includes Lawrence High School and Harry Easley, who occasionally believes he passed away during the quake. Luckily, he was still able to comment on the catastrophe.
“I didn’t know it was an earthquake until I checked Twitter to see everyone tweeting about it,” Easley said. “I’ve never experienced an earthquake before but I still hardly consider this an experience since I was asleep.”
Those who were out of town during the quake could only watch through social media, fearing the day they would have to return. History teacher Jake Thibodeau was in Colorado during the tremor.
“I got on Facebook and all everybody was talking about was an earthquake in Lawrence being felt,” Thibodeau said. “I was very scared. I had family back here, and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.”
Thibodeau wondered if he should return to Kansas early, but was told to keep away by people who cared about him.
“I thought ‘Maybe I should come back early,’ but I was told ‘No, stay. You’ll be fine. You don’t want to get in the way of anything’,” Thibodeau said.
Within a few days, Thibodeau returned to the shaken sunflower state only to behold the destruction and tragedy brought upon his home. It was difficult for Thibodeau to recall what he saw upon arrival in Lawrence because of how emotional the scene was.
“It was very–sorry, I’m still very emotional– it was very hard, because when I came back to my apartment, from the outside, it looked great,” Thibodeau said. ”But when I opened by door–I had a vase of flowers that’s always up on my dining room set and it had been … tipped over. Water had spilled … I had to get some paper towels and dry off the carpet. My cat was there. Apparently some pillows had fallen over and she was trapped underneath some pillows for a day and a half, and so she was pretty shaken up and I had to soothe her for awhile … I feel like the earthquake knocked one of my [bathroom] lights out, and that sucks because it makes my bathroom a little bit darker when I take a shower, so I understand what people around the world are going through when there are big earthquakes.”
Since the earthquake originated in Oklahoma, and therefore makes Oklahoma responsible, Kansans have been considering different forms of retaliation.
“Maybe don’t give them wheat,” Katz said.
Nobody knows how long it will take for the community morale to recover, or how long it will be until the next shake up. Whether or not the earthquake is avenged, Lawrence and the community will never be the same.
“I was pretty ‘shook’ by the whole thing… I didn’t mean to say ‘shook’ as a pun or anything like that because this is serious,” Thibodeau said. “I apologize.”