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Earthquake anxiety still shakes Utahns' world

Courtesy Channelle Brewer

Earthquake anxiety still shakes Utahns' world

By Merritt Jones, KSL | Posted - Mar. 24, 2020 at 6:38 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — A 3.1 magnitude earthquake shook West Valley City early morning Tuesday. Several lower magnitude earthquakes followed, adding to the many aftershocks felt by Utahns since March 18's 5.7 magnitude quake.

For many residents like Channelle Brewer, last week’s earthquake was her first. "I’ve been anxious ever since," Brewer told

She said her anxiety feels like she’s lost control. "Your house is a place where you should feel safe," Brewer said. "Just 10 seconds of shaking and that is taken away."

The sounds from last week’s earthquake are what scared her the most."I'll never forget that huge, thunderous sound," Brewer explained, "like a train was right near my house."

Even now, hearing doors close can put her on edge. "It's one of those moments where it's hard for you to do anything," Brewer said.

Anxiety was an almost daily occurrence for Brewer before the earthquakes, but now it’s become hard to manage. She said the coronavirus outbreaks and social distancing aren’t helping.

Utah’s Emergency Management started a Twitter thread Sunday to help ease the anxiety surrounding earthquakes.

"Can we have a talk about earthquake anxiety?" the agency tweeted. "We want to send you our love and compassion."

If you are experiencing sleeplessness, nervousness, lack of focus, "phantom" earthquakes and have endless questions, emergency management officials say you may have earthquake anxiety.


Facts, action, and time are three things emergency management officials say can ease earthquake anxiety.

Utah Emergency Management says Utah had 2,300 earthquakes last year — a majority of which were not felt. Most aftershocks from the March 18 earthquake were not felt either, and aftershocks that occur days and weeks after an initial earthquake are completely normal.

"So (you) have survived more earthquakes than you could even imagine," the emergency management agency tweeted.

Brewer said she’s become grateful for the aftershocks because they relieve pressure but appreciates sleeping through most of them.

In a worst-case scenario, emergency management officials still expect a 99% survival rate in Utah.

As part of its Twitter thread, the agency also shared simple actions to help ease earthquake anxiety and prepare for the aftershocks, such as walking around with your family and removing heavy objects from walls.

Breathing apps and designated safe places in her home are actions Brewer takes to ease her anxiety.

Utah Emergency Management officials are asking Utahns to follow Be Ready Utah on Twitter for earthquake and other emergency preparedness. They also have a website with tips for easing earthquake anxiety and making an emergency plan.

"Make emergency preparedness a weekly or monthly activity until it becomes a habit," the agency tweeted.

Brewer and her husband, Hayden, have always had 72-hour kits, but it feels different once you’ve experienced the vulnerability of complete shock. Making a plan with her husband for the next earthquake helped Brewer overcome her initial anxieties.

Over time, Utah Emergency Managment says, aftershocks and the accompanying anxiety will fade.

"You need to know this is completely normal. You are not alone," the agency expressed in another tweet. "If it’s your loved one or friend, please be kind and caring. Please listen to them. Stay open. Be patient. Anxiety can’t be forced away. It doesn’t have a set timeline."

"The more we talk about it … the more people will learn how they'll be able to help one another," said Brewer.


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Merritt Jones


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