Two geophysicists with the Kansas Geological Survey will be able to provide eye-witness accounts of the second-largest earthquake of the century when they return to Kansas University.
On Tuesday, Don Steeples, deputy director of the Kansas Geological Survey, and Rick Miller, another geophysicist with the survey, were teaching a short course on seismic reflection to about 15 geophysicists just south of San Francisco in Sunnyvale when the earthquake began.
Rex Buchanan, assistant director of public affairs at the geological survey, said he had spoken Tuesday night with Steeples' wife Tammy.
"He said it was strong enough so it was difficult to stand up and (strong enough to) shake water out of glasses," said Buchanan.
Steeples and Miller originally were scheduled to return home tonight, but it's likely they will be held up, said Buchanan.
Althought they weren't in California, other survey officials were sent hopping by the earthquake.
Buchanan said a seismograph at a recording station in Lawrence had picked up slight vibrations from the California quake.
That station is on the fifth floor of Moore Hall on Kansas University's West Campus.
"We're a long way from California," he said, "and the seismographs are set to record small earthquakes in Kansas. But we did pick something up."
Red Cross, radio operators pitch in
At the local chapter of the American Red Cross, workers were busy this morning trying to relay messages from area residents to friends and relatives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Jo Byers, director of the local chapter, said workers had received 22 requests for "health and welfare inquiries" this morning.
"We can't call anything out now, you just can't get through," she said, "so we're getting these to local ham (radio) operators, who are relaying the messages."
Byers said people also had called the chapter this morning to say they wanted to contribute money to the earthquake relief effort.
Truman Waugh, a local ham radio enthusiast who also is an associate scientist at the Kansas Geological Survey, said local operators will begin relaying messages tonight.
Local health and welfare inquiries will be transferred into a computer in Kansas City, which will transmit them to California.
Then, he said, operators in California will pick up the messages and investigate the inquiries and relay messages to Lawrence.
He estimated that Thursday is the earliest local people would have responses to their inquiries.
"But it's hard to say, in an emergency like this we really don't know what's going on," said Waugh.