RRAD supervisor experiences earthquake, hurricane in one week
September 28, 2011
Charles Martin, supervisor for the secondary division in Red River Army Depot's Directorate for Maintenance, has experienced many things in his life. As a retiree of the Army Reserves, his experiences stretch far and wide. However, according to the veteran, not many things compare to his time during the three week Intermediate Developmental Supervisory Course at the Army Management Staff College in Ft. Belvoir, Va.
First, there was the 5.8-magnitude earthquake August 23 that shook the ground so hard Martin and others in the class thought there was something more happening.
"As the loud noise started my first thought was we are under some kind of terror attack," said Martin. "I didn't know whether to get under the desk, on top of it, scream or shout."
Martin said that the loud roaring sound was very distant at first but noticeable. The sound seemed to be moving towards the building from the west.
"The roaring sound lasted a full minute," said Martin. "The sound kept getting increasingly louder."
Suddenly the building started to shake and things became a little clearer for everyone in the classroom.
"It shook people out of their chairs and things started falling off the wall," he said. "My feet came off the ground and I tried my best to maintain a steady balance."
Martin stated that the actual shaking lasted for approximately 50 seconds to one minute before the sound continued moving to the east.
"There was a Japanese student in the class who has experienced tsunamis and hundreds of earthquakes," said Martin. "She knew what it was immediately when the large sound began, but she said that out of all the earthquakes she's been in, she has never heard one like the one we experienced."
The West coast experiences earthquakes about 100 times more frequently than the East coast, but East coast earthquakes have normally have shockwaves that travel much farther, according to seismologists.
No one was seriously injured or killed during the earthquake. There were several reports of damage to homes and commercial buildings as well as damage to the Washington Monument.
Less than a week later, Martin stepped into another weather situation -- Hurricane Irene. The Category 1 hurricane hit Ft. Belvoir at 8 pm August 27 with 80 mph winds.
"The winds were very strong which knocked our electricity out," he said. "The electricity only stayed out a few hours. At first I got out of the bed to look out the window and tree tops were bent over to the ground."
Property in the area sustained damage from the trees blowing down but Ft. Belvoir didn't receive the blunt of the storm.
"There wasn't much flooding in Belvoir so I believe the storm kind of missed us," he said.
The two events put a slight set back on the schedule for the supervisor course; however, according to Martin, it was still a great class.
"I've been to a lot of schools and training over the years but even with these two events, it was one to the best classes of that type that I've ever attended," he said. "My goal when I got there was to take the training and learn as much as I can, but I also wanted to have those people wanting to come and work for Red River. I want to sell this place (RRAD) and keep the doors open."
Martin said during the class each student completed a daily journal entry. His first journal entry, which asked each student "what do you do for the Soldier" received a lot of attention from the other students in the class.
"I wrote about a page and a half," he said. We got back to class and other students had only written a short paragraph. I asked them 'you don't know what you do for the Soldier every day' and most answered that they really didn't know or didn't know how to put it in words. I still tried to let them know that regardless of what they do, from writing regulations to working on vehicles, it is important to the Soldier."
Martin plans to continue his training and talk about the good work of Red River to anyone who will listen...even in an earthquake or hurricane.