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Earthquake shakes up Imlay family


Schiller family rides out shocks in 7th story apartment in China


May 21, 2008
IMLAY CITY — The devastation from last week's earthquake in Chungdu, China was widespread and tens of thousands of deaths were reported, but amazingly Imlay City native Dawson Schiller and family escaped harm.

His parents, Jim and Nancy, breathed a sigh of relief once they made contact with their son.

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Dawson and Sarah Schiller and their kids escaped harm or serious damage to their home following the massive earthquake that hit China on May 12.
Dawson, an employee of Auburn Hills-based Molex, was at the company's plant on the afternoon of May 12 when the 7.9 magnitude quake struck. His wife, Sarah, three children and housekeeper were in their seventh story apartment.

"They ran into the kitchen," Nancy said of her daughter-in-law and grandchildren.

"They watched the other apartment complexes sway as they swayed. Amazingly, there was no major structural damage, just a half-inch crack in the living room wall."

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Lauren, Aaron and Natalie Shiller and their parents escaped unharmed.
At the peak of the rumbling, the Schiller's kitchen cupboards and drawers were flung open.

"When it was all done, they ran outside," Nancy said.

Eventually, the younger Schillers learned the epicenter of the earthquake was northwest of Chingdu but severe damage was reported in part of the city with a population of 6 million.

"After that people didn't want to go back into their homes but it rained that night," Nancy said.

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An American friend, who resided on the 17th floor of an apartment complex, roomed with the Schillers for the night.

Aftershocks did follow, one at a 6.1 magnitude, although most were less severe.

The Schiller's children did go to school the next day, May 13, but by Wednesday the Chinese government had closed such public buildings.

"I was so glad to hear that they didn't lose electricity and they still had running water," Nancy said.

Dawson's mom said the family understood that earthquakes were a potential danger after undergoing six weeks of classes all about China, the people and their culture before moving there for a three-year stay last August.

Jim and Nancy have plans to visit Dawson, Sarah and grandkids sometime next year.

According to media reports, the earthquake's death toll could reach 50,000.

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