Earthquake shakes up Gatineau Hills

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by admin on June 24, 2010

When Low Down reporter Trevor Greenway’s daughter was born the afternoon of June 23, the earth moved.

Although many new parents have similar feelings at the sight of their first child coming into the world, Greenway’s earth-shaking moment was all too real. When the earthquake – which measured 5.5 on the Richter scale – hit, Greenway was in the operating room at the Ottawa General Hospital with his partner Paulina Ciechanowska who was having a Caesarean section procedure. The doctors had just made the incision when the quake struck.

“Stuff was shaking, the entire room was bouncing,” said Greenway. “The anaesthesiogist got on the phone and I heard her ask, ‘Should we cancel surgery?’ Then I heard her say, ‘No, we’re about to pull her out.’ She gave the cue to the doctor to go ahead, then they continued pushing on Paulina’s stomach to get the baby out.”

Greenway said that although the whole thing seemed surreal, he managed to keep his cool. He stroked his partner’s head, calming her and explaining that what was happening “was not a dream,” even though the 27-year-old reporter was “on the brink of totally freaking out.”

Fortunately, everything turned out fine. With doctors and nurses in the room grabbing their cellular phones to check that their loved ones were OK, Greenway and Ciechanowska held their new baby girl, Cora, who came into a discombobulated world weighing a healthy eight pounds four ounces.

All other surgeries at the hospital were cancelled for the day.

Greenway’s experience was just one of many frightening shake-ups locals experienced when the quake hit at about 1:40 in the afternoon.

“The whole building really shook,” said Lauren Evenson, who was serving up ice cream at Le Moo. “All of our drinks fell over. It was really terrifying.”

One of her customers who fled the building, Rene Vinneau, visiting from Quebec City,   knew immediately what had happened.

“It’s not my first earthquake,” he said, “so I knew what it was.”

Just as the ice cream shop was shaking, Paul Wolf was clearing out of Le Hibou restaurant a few doors away. His only thought: “Run!”

Flight was not an option for 88-year-old Edwin Molyneaux. He was strolling along Riverside Drive when the ground began to move.

“All of a sudden, I heard this awful noise,” he recounted minutes after. “I didn’t know what to do.”

Standing under the National Bank sign, Molyneaux recmembers thinking the sign was swinging so wildly it might fall on his head.

Other news reports indicated the earthquake was felt as far away as Ohio, New York and Michigan. In Canada, the earth also shook under major centres Montreal and Toronto.