News of earthquakes has been reported recently in Las Vegas, which experienced a 3.6 magnitude quake on Sunday, Oct. 5, and Kansas, which experienced a 4.4 magnitude earthquake on Thursday, Oct. 2, followed by two aftershocks. Luckily, no injuries and very little property damage resulted. However, after some of the most powerful and devastating earthquakes in recent years, stories of extraordinary circumstances and what some would call miracles have occurred.
The 2010 earthquake that rocked Haiti destroyed the home of Onidel Joachim and his wife Ena in an instant. They believed all of their five children had died, crushed by the rubble. But days later, when an aunt returned to the site of the home to retrieve whatever possessions remained, she heard the voice of her seven-year-old nephew Kiki. Kiki and his sister Sabrina were trapped but still alive. The scene was gruesome as they were surrounded by the decaying corpses of their other three siblings, but they remained alert and were asking for water. Rescue workers were called in and, as they worked to free the children, they cut a hole the floor and passed water to them. Not surprisingly, when the children were reunited with their mother, she collapsed in joy. The family still struggled after the quake in the dire situation that took hold after the quake and while Kiki expressed how sad he was for his siblings who did not make it, he was happy to be alive and free and with his “mama.”
In 2011, after the powerful earthquake that shook Japan, a four-month-old baby girl was swept from her parents’ arms when a crushing wave hit their village of Ishinomaki. For three days, as the family believed her dead and mourned her loss, soldiers were going to door to door retrieving bodies when they found the tiny survivor. She was crying and wet and cold but she was alive and appeared to suffer no injuries. How she survived is considered a mystery, or to her parents and the soldiers who rescued her, a miracle.
Miracles, of course, are not reserved for the young as Xiong Zhengfen, age 88, proved when she spent over two days – a total of fifty hours, actually – trapped under a building after an earthquake in China earlier this year. It took six hours to pull her from beneath the debris and required the use of a rope and stretcher to carry her out but, miraculously, the octogenarian was unharmed and still in fine health. Even the state run television station in China, CCTV, called it a miracle.
Earthquake miracles do not always involve rubble, debris and stories of trapped survivors as was the case with 75-year-old Robert Valderzak of Washington, D.C. Earlier in 2011, Valderzak had slipped and fallen on Father’s Day, fracturing his skull and resulting in severe loss of hearing. For months, he had to learn how to read lips, which he found frustrating because he could only talk to one person at a time, and use a special microphone and hearing aid. In Aug. 2011, when the D.C. area was hit with a 5.8 magnitude earthquake, Valderzak was thrown from his bed. Right after, when his son spoke to him, he could – perhaps miraculously – hear him clearly. Doctors, however, did not call it a miracle but explained that the fall from his bed may have been just the thing to clear the fluid in Valderzak’s ear. Whatever the explanation, like all of the survivors or their families described here, Valderzak believes it was a miracle for him and he said “God’s blessing.”
By Jennifer Fernicola Ronay