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Utah man describes experience living through Morocco earthquake

Posted at 9:42 PM, Sep 10, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s a devastating time for Morocco as the country grapples with one of the deadliest disasters in its history. More than 2,000 people have lost their lives in a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Morocco Friday night.

For Dave Bernhisel, seeing every inch of the world is his passion. He is from Farmington, and Morocco is the 44th country he has visited.

“Marrakesh was something I always wanted to go see," he said.

But this travel adventure was different.

“At about 12:30 in the morning, I was sound asleep. For 15 seconds, everything shook. At first, you’re dead asleep and you’re like, 'Is this a dream?' and you sort of are kind of disoriented a little bit, and you realize what’s going on. By that time, it stopped.”

He felt the tremors of an earthquake with an epicenter about 50 miles away from Bernhisel, which changed everything for Morocco. He only saw a crack in his hotel, but the town was hurt.

“A lot of damage, you know, bricks falling, cracks,” explained Bernhisel. “The city square is full of several hundred people sleeping on the ground. Presumably, their place has collapsed. Yeah, it's very sad.”

Bernhisel added how he was walking around and saw many structures in the marketplace had collapsed.

“This one person was opening up and he sold some kind of glass kind of things and it was just massive broken stuff in the middle of his garage-sized thing, and it just broke my heart too because you could see the look on his face. His inventory, maybe his whole life is there,” recalled Bernhisel.

He visited the epicenter just the day before with a local guide and driver who were showing him around, and he spent time with people in their homes there.

“I got a text from my driver. He said everything is destroyed. Some people have died, he said, but his family were okay," Bernhisel said.

He said disasters like these put so much into perspective.

“Typically we read about these disasters in far-off places — it’s a headline, and we move on to the next thing... And being in it, it really breaks your heart," he said.

Bernhisel said watching people come together to pick up the pieces has been heartwarming.

“Good people helping each other out. All they want to do is have a nice place for their family, do the best that they can. We’re all the same," he said.