Marketers who were stranded in Seattle spent hours at the Sea-Tac International Airport yesterday trying to get home. The airport was operating, though departing flights were somewhat restricted because of damage to a control tower.
On Wednesday, a 6.8-magnitude quake rocked the area, forcing the Direct Marketing Association to cancel the final hours of the net.marketing conference. Many attendees and exhibitors — unaware of any major damage immediately after the quake — headed to the airport. However, it had been closed because of the quake. As this news trickled in, there was reportedly a rush on rental car companies as people hoped to get flights from Portland, OR, or other nearby airports.
Others filled nearby taverns and hotel bars, where there was a “Survivor” atmosphere in the air. The mood was definitely not the normal bar talk, said DM News publisher Scott Vail, as people watched the day's events on television and talked about their experiences.
At least two aftershocks — registering 3.4 and 2.7 — hit at 1:10 a.m. and at 6:23 a.m. yesterday. Meanwhile, a few remaining exhibitors at the show were still working into the afternoon to pack up their booths and clear the exhibit hall.
The Seattle Times reported that telephone calls increased sixfold immediately after the quake, with many callers encountering busy circuits. Wireless carriers were swamped, with one in every three calls not going through as networks were overloaded.
The quake hit at 10:54 a.m. PST Wednesday, and the epicenter was 11 miles northeast of Olympia. Damage has been estimated at $1 billion, and the quake was felt from the Canadian border to Eugene and east to Salt Lake City.
President Bush declared the entire state of Washington a disaster area last night. Damage estimates are up to $2 billion, and there have been more than 320 injuries reported.