How people with disabilities experienced the 5.9 magnitude earthquake in Victoria
Shiara Lennon was awakened by yesterday’s earthquake, which nearly knocked over potted plants in her seventh-floor apartment.
- The 5.9 magnitude earthquake was followed by six aftershocks
- Some disabled Melburnians experienced tremors differently
- Pets and service animals were more alert when the earthquake hit
âMy bed was rocking and rolling,â she told ABC with a laugh.
Ms Lennon, 61, was stunned after the 5.9 magnitude quake, waiting to see if aftershocks ensued.
She is legally blind and suffers from certain physical disabilities, which can make mobility difficult.
If the earthquake had been more violent and had moved or moved objects in his house, it would have been difficult for him to orient himself, let alone get out of the building.
Ms Lennon said he was glad her daughter was there, and she came to his room to alert him of the earthquake.
âI don’t know what additional anxiety I would have felt if my daughter hadn’t been here,â she said.
Ms Lennon later said neighbors told her some residents had evacuated her public housing building in Carlton, but she was disappointed no one knocked on her door to watch her.
âIt left me kind of forgotten,â she said.
A spokesperson for Homes Victoria told the ABC that there had been no evacuation of public housing towers due to the earthquake, but inspections of the high towers were underway.
The ABC understands that there have been reports of water leaks and minor cracks in the walls.
“We are responding to reports of minor damage to a small number of public housing following yesterday’s earthquake and are working with tenants to identify any other issues or concerns,” the spokesperson said.
Ms Lennon, the earthquake brought the issue of her safety and security back to the forefront – but it’s something that has simmered throughout the pandemic.
“I felt this was a problem that needed to be highlightedâ¦ If I am one, how many more? [are] unheard of or invisible? “
Quiet tremors for Melbourne’s deaf community
While many Victorians may have been alerted to the earthquake by the sound of furniture shaking, Megan Grant was not.
The 44-year-old was walking into her living room to open her wooden Venetian blinds when the earthquake hit.
âI didn’t have my ‘ears.’ I’m profoundly deaf and I can’t hear absolutely anything without my cochlear voice processors,â she told the ABC in an email.
“I was extremely confused when I noticed the blinds flickering.”
She thought maybe the windows had been smashed.
“I thought my mind was playing tricks on me and then I realized maybe it was an earthquake. I did a quick google search which confirmed it.”
She also had clues that something was wrong because her cockatiel was “more alert than usual and was pacing up and down on its perch.”
Her hearing aid dog, George, was also more alert.
âI remember he lifted his head very quickly and jumped out of bed, which was a bit unusual as he likes to take his time and stretch while standing up,â she said.
Ms Grant said other deaf friends who felt the quake of the earthquake did not hear the rumble – one thought his wife was hitting the sofa to get his attention, while another thought that her children were fighting upstairs.
âI felt reasonably calm when all of this was going on,â she said.
“I was probably glad I didn’t have my ears closed because I think I would have been more alarmed if I had heard the click.”
Disasters, an opportunity to connect
Nadia Mattiazzo, acting CEO of Women with Disabilities Victoria, said she thought her guide dog was scratching when the earthquake hit.
âThen I realized, ‘No, when the dogs are scratching, the whole house is not shaking,’ she said.
“There was a lot of noise, there was a lot of cracklingâ¦ It was really weird.”
Some people in his organization had also worked in New Zealand, which brought back memories of past destructive earthquakes.
She said people like her living in a blind household might not know if there was any structural damage to their building.
She said there would be differences in experience – for example, for a wheelchair user on a high floor who could not leave their home quickly.
âBut, you know, it’s pretty much the same as everyone,â she said.
She said that for many people who might already feel isolated due to the pandemic and shaken by the earthquake, it was worth registering and debriefing.
Ross Joyce, CEO of the Australian Federation of Disabled People’s Organizations, agreed that it was important for neighbors to watch each other, especially if they were facing mobility issues.
He said he knew people living on the 30th floor of buildings who were quite shaken by it.
âPeople say we are disconnected, but I have seen a lot of connection happening across the community.
“One good thing about Australian determination is that we really want to take care of each other.”
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