Shake-up: Attorney gets a taste of latest California quake


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Attorney David Anderson and his wife Lorelei won't easily forget their 15th wedding anniversary vacation. The couple might pick singer Carole King's opus "I Feel the Earth Move" as their romantic song, after experiencing the 6.0-magnitude temblor on August 24 in California's Napa Valley the strongest to hit that area since 1989.

The Andersons were celebrating their anniversary with a long-awaited trip to California's wine country, staying in a historic bed-and-breakfast in downtown Sonoma.

"It was a beautiful spot with a private courtyard and fountain where you could sit and eat fresh pastries for breakfast or sip some wine in the evening," says Anderson, a University of Detroit Mercy School of Law alumnus and an attorney with Collins Einhorn Farrell in Southfield, where he specializes in the defense of product and professional liability claims. "We spent our first full day touring the wineries of the Sonoma Valley the wines, the views and the service were all excellent."

On Day 2, the couple toured some of the well-known wineries in the Napa Valley then wrapped up the day with dinner at The Girl and the Fig restaurant before retiring for the evening to their room on the first floor of a two-story building.

Around 3:30 a.m. Sunday, Anderson was jarred awake by an extremely loud noise.

"It sounded like a train was about to run straight into our room," he recalls. "As my feet and hands came up off the bed, I recall my back bouncing on the bed and my 185-pound frame was bouncing like a ping pong ball on a table."

Realizing that Mother Nature had produced a huge earthquake, Anderson instinctively rolled over onto his wife to protect her from whatever might fall from above.

"Lorelei screamed, 'What is that,' and I yelled back, 'I think it's an earthquake,'" Anderson says. "We held tight and heard things falling off tables and out of cabinets."

The loud rumbling continued. Then, except for the sound of water spraying from a broken pipe in a bathroom, everything went silent and dark.

With the power out, Anderson jumped out of bed, found his cell phone on the floor and used its light to quickly assess the damage which included candlesticks and lamps on the floor, and a broken bottle of olive oil on the stove.

The two were eventually able to rest in the living room where the walls looked to their untrained eye to be the most secure. Saying a prayer, they fell back to sleep only to be rudely awakened about 90 minutes later by a 3.9 magnitude aftershock.

"While unsettling, it paled in comparison to the original quake," Anderson says.

Daylight brought more evidence of damage, including a toppled fountain in the courtyard, and cracks throughout the house including long cracks in the bathroom wall, and other walls and ceilings.

Fortunately, there were no fatalities, but about 200 injuries were reported in the area and the damage has been estimated at up to $1 billion.

"Streets buckled, wineries lost large amounts of bottled and barreled wine, windows at shops were blown out, and all the windows at an air traffic control tower at Napa airport were broken," Anderson says.

This was not the couple's first brush with Mother Nature. Earlier this summer, they weathered Tropical Storm Bertha when it hit Puerto Rico, where they watched their youngest son's baseball team compete in the AABC 10U World Series, taking third place.

The couple flew home the day after the earthquake. While the University of Michigan alumni enjoyed California wine country, they were very happy to be back on the solid terrain of the Great Lakes State.

"Next year, we're planning to tour the northern Michigan wineries," Anderson says with a smile.

Published: Tue, Sep 09, 2014