Joe and Mary Reneau were getting ready for bed shortly before 11 p.m. Saturday when they heard a loud boom and their whole house began shaking.
Their Lincoln County home was near the epicenter of the state's strongest earthquake recorded to date, a 5.6 magnitude temblor that was felt as far away as Wisconsin.
Mary Reneau, 68, said the house began shaking so much they had to hold on to objects in their bedroom to keep them from falling over. Joe Reneau, 75, said dust went flying everywhere, and they were hoping the house wouldn't collapse on top of them.
“This house shook, rattled and rolled,” he said.
Earlier Saturday, a 4.7 magnitude earthquake centered in the same area broke some of the Reneaus' dishes and sentimental keepsakes. Now, they've got much bigger problems.
Debris is covering their living room floor from where their chimney collapsed onto the roof Saturday night. A crane came out to their home near Sparks and removed the chimney Sunday, so it wouldn't cause any more damage, Joe Reneau said.
The couple spent the day trying to move furniture and salvage anything in the living room. Friends and family stopped by to help, including some of the people from their church.
“The second one (earthquake), it literally shook this house to its foundation,” Joe Reneau said.
‘Moment of despair'
Melissa Dapper was at a friend's house when it started shaking Saturday night.
“We were sitting there and everything started rocking. It took me right back to that moment of despair,” she said.
Dapper and her family were living in Tokyo when the magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck Japan in March. Her husband, Blain, took a job with a Japanese airline and the family moved to the city in August 2010. She had just gotten a massage, picked up her 5-year-old daughter, Dakota, from school and returned to their apartment on the 25th floor of a 40-story apartment building in the heart of Tokyo when the quake hit.
“I had just sat down. I had felt a couple tremors and it got worse and it got worse and the whole building was just rocking,” Dapper said.
Once the shaking stopped, Dapper went in search of her daughter, Jayden, 7.
“I ran down 25 flights of stairs with a 5-year-old on my back, trying to find my 7-year-old who I thought was in the elevator,” she said.
Dapper instead found Jayden at school across the street. They'd just been reunited when a 6.0 magnitude aftershock rocked the school. A tsunami warning was issued and she stayed with her two daughters inside the school for more than two hours until they were allowed to leave, she said.
Dapper, who had been a flight attendant for eight years, said she left Tokyo two days later and moved to Washington. She had been going to counseling twice a week before she started suffering from panic attacks in May 2010. Dapper said she'd experienced turbulence and other unsettling events on airplanes, but developed post-traumatic stress disorder after the quake.
“When you're in something that major, like an 8.1 earthquake, you really do know that fear of dying,” Dapper said.
“I grew up in Oklahoma, so we decided to come back here and buy a house. I woke up to that (the 4.7 magnitude earthquake) the other night and thought, ‘We just had an earthquake.'”
But the 5.6 earthquake struck later that day.
“I was holding my breath and I could feel the surge of energy through my body. I started feeling like I was going to have a panic attack, but I talked myself out of it. When they said only minor damage was reported and no injuries, it soothed me a bit,” Dapper said.
Her husband still works in Japan and is only home 10 days of the month while she takes care of her two girls, now ages 6 and 8, at their Oklahoma City home.
“I thought I would go back in three months, but I just couldn't,” she said.
“I thought I only had to worry about tornadoes when I moved back,” Dapper said.
CONTRIBUTING: Jim Beckel, staff photographer