So, 2 years ago today was the scariest day of my life. Berkay and I decided to go for a little swim in a hotel pool along the seafront and set off in the afternoon at 3ish. We got to the pool, got in and was in there for no more than 5 minutes when everything began rocking violently back and forth, the water was jolting out of the pool and all we could hear was a horrible rumbling sound and the smashing of bottles on the floor. It was clear that it was an Earthquake, but that didn’t really sink in until the swaying had stopped – it all happened so fast.
I remember sitting in the pool minding my own business when we heard it – I can’t explain the sound, but it’s creepy. It sounded a bit like a heavy truck driving rumbling right past. We looked up and saw the pool bar violently rocking back and forth – it wasn’t a gentle sway, it was really severe rocking and jolting. The entire contents of the bar smashed on the floor – adding to the awful rumbling sound. At the time, I didn’t even think to get out of the pool, just sat watching. It was all over in seconds, thank God, because had it lasted longer there would have been a lot more damage I believe! We raced out of the pool and sat on the edge, trying to take it all in, along with all the other tourists now sitting up alert on their sunbeds. The people in the neighbouring houses were all outside by now too. While sitting on the edge of the pool and discussing what had just happened, we felt the pool edge wobbling again and jumped up quickly. That was the first of many, many aftershocks.
Click HERE to see a video of CCTV footage from a shop in Fethiye as the earthquake happened!
In the panic we just got dressed and walked away from the hotel and along the beach, everyone else had run out of their hotels and restaurants and were waiting outside, I’d never seen the seafront so busy. Everyone was trying to call people, but there was no phone signal, internet or electricity. It’s scary how quickly you can be cut off to the world! Some people managed to get TVs working, which is where we saw that it was a 6.1 magnitude earthquake and the reason we felt it so strongly was because the epicenter was just out to sea from Oludeniz. It had also been felt as far as 4-5 hours away in Izmir. Luckily there was hardly any damage and the only people injured were those jumping off balconies in a panic.
We were scared to go home, we lived in a very Turkish house and wasn’t sure how safe it was – and our poor rabbit was in her cage on the balcony, but when we got there everything was fine, photos had fallen off units, we had no electricity and the fridge door had swung open meaning the contents of the freezer had defrosted, but that was it. It could have been so much worse! Thank God I wasn’t inside at the time or I wouldn’t have known what to do – I’d have curled up in a ball and cried.
That night Berkay had to go to work and I was terrified of sleeping along as there had already been HUNDREDS of aftershocks, at least 15 of them big enough to feel, but all much, much less significant than the first two. Berkay went off to work and left me at home, I had packed a bag with a change of clothes, water, passport etc ready to run outside and go somewhere safe in the event of another. I was sat on the bed anticipating another and feeling the slightest movement. I felt a few aftershocks rock the bed that were around 4.5 on the scale, and it all got too much so I grabbed my bag and laptop and went off to Berkays hotel to sleep outside on a sunbed! It wasn’t much better there – everyone else was asleep and because I was sat outside I could hear and feel even the slightest thing. I became addicted to the earthquake monitoring website (http://www.deprem.gov.tr/sarbis/Deprem/SonDepremler.aspx ) and kept checking every 5 minutes to see if I was imagining things – most of the time I wasn’t.
There were hundreds of aftershocks that went on for days, weeks and months afterwards, most not significant enough to feel. After two nights of sleeping on the sunbed at Berkay’s hotel, I felt safe enough to sleep at home alone.. Berkay went off to work, I waved at him from the kitchen window and then BAAAM, heard the fridge and plates rattling and felt the kitchen floor moving. I rang Berkay crying cos it was still so terrifying and he told me to go and sit with my neighbours who had been camping outside for the past few days as a result. They couldn’t speak a word of English so that was interesting in itself. We all slept in the car, I was in the boot. It’s really mental when you think about it, fear makes you do funny things. The driver slept with the keys in his hand incase there was a tsunami and he had to speed off. It really was that worrying!
Sleeping outside with the neighbours!
Most people are afraid of something, but most feel safe in their own home, when you can’t even trust the ground you walk on it really is scary. Until you’re in that position, you can’t understand it. I slept for weeks with a bag packed ready at the side of my bed and a glass with cutlery in so I’d hear it rattling if there was another tremor while I was sleeping. After a while I stopped checking the earthquake website and felt safer again, I don’t have a bag ready anymore – I probably should though!
I’m not writing this to scare anyone, just putting my experience out there. It was 2 years ago today and I’m over it now, but it was the scariest few days of my life! Let’s be honest – the chance of being involved in a serious earthquake is pretty slim (There are tons of mini tremors in Turkey and all over the world everyday), but in some places, like Turkey, the chance is higher than others. You’re still more likely to get run-over by a car, or a bus, or be involved in another kind of accident, but should always be prepared and have a plan in place just in case,
although to be honest, if it ever comes down to it again and I’m in the house alone, I’ll probably still ignore all my knowledge and curl up in a ball and cry.
Here’s a link to some guidelines on how to prepare, and what to do in the event of an earthquake. http://www.ready.gov/earthquakes