At 3:20 a.m. on Sunday, August 24, 2014, the earth of the Napa Valley began to shake violently and it didn’t stop for 16 seconds. Sixteen seconds is a long time while riding out a 6.0 on the Richter Scale! It’s quite likely that I will never forget where I was when that happened or what we had to face once the shaking stopped.
I was asleep on the guest bed on the ground floor of our 1850s cottage while the husband was upstairs snoring away. The first jolt felt like a truck had hit the house and that kept happening over and over again for each of the 16 seconds that the quake lasted. Even as I clung to the bed screaming and having books fall down on my head I could hear the unsettled earth groaning and the contents of the cabinets, closets, and bookcases being disgorged onto the floor.
After doing my best to help my husband down the stairs and soon after being reminded that I shouldn’t run out the back door naked, I gathered my wits enough to grab a pair of shorts and a hoodie and head outside to check on the neighbors and wait for the sun to come up so we could start to assess the damage. At first light, it became apparent that the disgorging was VERY thorough. It also became apparent that it was a miracle that I didn’t shred my feet while trying to get out of the house since just about every square inch of floor space was covered in broken glass.
Once we started in on the clean up, which consisted of separating our books, which didn’t break, from everything else that was smashed to bits, it dawned on me that, thanks to a product test I had done in January, we had a rechargeable Dyson DC44 vacuum to help us while PG&E figured out how to restore power to our neighborhood. After scooping up the really big pieces of glass with a dust pan, I unplugged the Dyson from its charger and began vacuuming up everything that would fit through the aperture of the crevice tool. I think I emptied the dirt bin 20 times before finally losing count, and somehow, despite a claimed runtime of approximately 20 minutes on a full charge, which I have time and again proven to be true, the DC44 kept on doing what it does. It simply cleans as good or better than any vacuum I’ve ever used and it does so without being tethered to a wall by an electrical cord which, in the case of post-earthquake, no-electricity clean up, is a very good thing.
Now, of course, a runtime of more than 20 minutes should not be expected with this appliance. In this particular case, however, maybe because it was being used in short bursts between the numerous times the bin needed to be emptied of the seemingly endless supply of glass shards, it lasted longer than it normally would, but that is almost immaterial to this testimonial. All I know is that it did last right up until it was too dark to do any more vacuuming. It lasted long enough for me to be too tired to do any more vacuuming. It lasted long enough for PG&E to restore the power to our neighborhood after the hairiest earthquake I’ve ever experienced flipped my entire existence upside down. That is the important thing here. It was something for me to rely upon at a time when it felt like it was just me and my husband defending ourselves against something we couldn’t have prevented, controlled or changed the outcome of. It made it so I could start to reclaim a little space that had been covered with more broken glass than I have ever seen in any one place at any one time and for that I am sincerely thankful.
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**Full disclosure: This Dyson DC44 Vacuum was provided at no cost for editorial consideration, but it was used to help clean up after an earthquake. Consider this its long-term test.