This morning, at a time that might have been around 2:30, our family was awakened by people screaming, and our beds rolling about beneath us. It's hard for me to explain exactly how everything felt, as I was awakened from a sound sleep, and I don't think I was really all the way awake until we were all out of the house.
I know that, right after I left my bed and headed for the kids' rooms, the earthquake paused for a moment. Allen and I froze, but right away things started to shake again, and we jumped right back into action. I didn't hear any noise from the quake, and the motion had a sort of rolling feel to it the whole time. I grabbed David and yelled at Gus, then started toward the front door. Our house has several different types of roofs in different places - there isn't a really good place to stand in a doorway and feel safe - so we were all headed out of the house.
When I had just entered the living room of the house (the room with the front door), the power went out. I stumbled the rest of the way out in the pitch dark, wheezing and realizing that I hadn't grabbed my asthma inhaler, but no way was I going back inside for it!
Out in front of the house, our neighbors were yelling over to us, to find out if everyone in our family was all right. Apparently there had been a big crash at the beginning of the tremor (while I was still asleep - I still don't know what crashed) and the neighbors thought it came from inside our house. With much of our roof being cement slab, it clearly isn't a great house to be in during an earthquake!
The motion lasted just about a minute - scarcely long enough for us to get out of the house. We hung around outside with the neighbors for a bit, and when it was clear that there was no major damage near us, Allen and some of the kids headed back to bed. Others of us, who couldn't imagine sleeping just yet, stayed outside longer. With the power out, there was no way to find out, at first, how extensive the earthquake was. We didn't know how much area was affected, whether we were at the edge of a large quake, or at the center of a smaller one. Phone lines were already jammed, and as people were able to contact friends and relatives in other parts of the country, we were gradually able to piece together the details of the event.
Russell had been sleeping in one of the Land Cruisers, out on our property. Eventually we were able to reach him by phone. His story was pretty humorous: he'd been awakened by the vehicle rocking back and forth, and assumed that one of the cows on the property was rubbing up against the vehicle. He started yelling at the cow to get away, then got the car lights on, and couldn't find the cow! It wasn't until we finally got through to him on the phone (maybe an hour after the quake) that he knew it had been an earthquake.
Less amusing was the fact that, when we returned to the house we realized that Bethany had never awakened, and none of us had realized that she was still in the house. It was, of course, crazy/scary/pitch black - but still - you feel bad knowing that you left a child behind when you evacuated! Several of us agreed that we thought we'd talked to her when we first got outside - but I guess we were wrong, huh?
Later in the morning, Russell got the news (from his girlfriend, who talked by phone with relatives in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, where the electricity was on and people could watch the news) that the center of the earthquake was right near the island of Guanaja, where we used to live. There hasn't been much news from Guanaja that I've seen, but what little I have found hasn't indicated any deaths or damage on the island.
The power stayed out until about 10 in the morning. I just had time to reassure a few people by email that we were fine, when the power went out again, for the rest of the day, until dark.
I've been reading the Honduran newspapers online, and some reports indicate that there was a death here in Gracias Lempira. I don't have any details on that though. There was also a death reported in the department of Lempira, over near the border with El Salvador. It is possible, in the confusion that always follows events like this, that this will turn out to be the same person. In both cases, the reported death was that of a child.
There has been some damage on the north coast, including one major bridge which has fallen into a river, but things seem pretty much back to normal up here in the mountaions. We're praying for those who experienced loss in this event.