A vacationing Texas couple will never forget their first earthquake.
Shane Williams and his wife, Brittany, were on the first day of their trip to Napa when today’s 6.0 magnitude quake, Northern California’s most powerful tremor in 25 years, hit.
“We’re both from Houston so we don’t know earthquakes,” says Williams, who tells Yahoo Travel he and his wife were dead asleep in their room at the Andaz Napa when the quake struck just after 3 a.m. “The best way to describe it is like a horror movie: the bed shaking, stuff falling off the walls. My wife was screaming, grabbing on to me. She said later she thought we were getting bombed.”
Texas couple Shane Williams and his wife, Brittany, were vacationing in Napa when the quake hit (Photo: Twitter/Shane Williams)
Williams says the quake felt like it lasted about 30 seconds. The hotel’s power went out, forcing them to use a cell phone to find their way around the dark and extremely damaged room.
“We were regrouping when we saw the strobe lights from the fire alarm go off,” he says. “I found some shorts, threw on a robe — my wife did the same — and we followed the crowd out.”
Williams says that although they didn’t appear to be in any immediate danger, he still had a big concern: his wedding ring, which he’d left behind in the darkened and destroyed hotel room. “I was really hoping I’d be able to find that,” he said.
The hotel room was left in shambles by the quake (Photo: Twitter/Shane Williams)
Once the crowd got to the stairwell, he heard hotel staff giving instructions. “They were telling everyone to go across the street and wait until the building was checked out to see if it’s okay for people to go back in,” he says.
Williams and his fellow guests stood outside in their shorts, robes, and various forms of sleepwear for close to three hours until the sun came up and they were better able to see what, if any, damage there was to the hotel. Williams doesn’t recall hearing anyone give an “All Clear” signal, but he noticed that people started filing back into the hotel to retrieve their belongs. “We just followed the crowd back in,” he says.
And what they saw inside the hotel looked very much like that bomb blast Shane’s wife initially feared.
They weren’t able to salvage Brittany’s makeup, but they did find Shane’s wedding ring (Photo: Twitter/Shane Williams)
“There was broken glass everywhere,” Williams says. “All the drawers had fallen out. Every room I saw on our floor looked like it was in the same shape.” Fortunately, they did find his wedding ring. “It was under the bed,” he says.
With their hotel damaged and without power, the Williams’ Napa vacation has come to an early end. While the friends they were traveling with decided to take an impromptu trip to nearby San Francisco, Williams and his wife just want to get home to Texas. He says their airline, Southwest, has been very accommodating, helping them book a last-minute flight home at only a minimal fee (“Around $80,” he says).
In an email, Southwest Airlines tells Yahoo Travel the airline has no special accommodation policy in place for Williams and others affected by today’s quake. “It sounds like they benefited from the compassionate delivery of one of our Employees providing our Legendary Customer Service – and our long-standing ‘No Change Fees’ policy,” Southwest says. ”We empower our people to work with our Customers to do the right thing.”
And as Shane and his wife wait for their flight back home after their abbreviated vacation (“We weren’t able to do any wine tasting,” he says), he’s just thankful he and his wife are okay. And he has this advice for those who experience a similar disaster when on vacation: “Stay calm, get somewhere safe and assess the situation. It stinks, but we’re now able to look back on this and say it was crazy, instead of it being the worst two hours of our lives.”