I have experienced one earthquake first-hand, and that was nearly 20 years ago. It measured just over 5 on the Richter scale and was centered near Roermond in southern Holland. It did a fair bit of damage in that town, toppling chimney and other masonry. I was 60 miles to the north at the time, and it was a strange and frightening experience.
I awoke at 3 am, with the moon shining into my bedroom. There was not a sound - which was odd, as there is always the noise from the motorway, linking Holland to Germany, in the background. Not that night. I dropped off to sleep.
Just over 20 minutes later, I awoke to the bed swinging back and forth, and the whole house in fact creaking and swaying. It lasted for about 15 seconds, then ceased. The power had gone off, but I had batteries in my bedside radio, and this reported the quake, as well as the power outage. Things got back to normal fairly soon. The power grid had tripped out as a result of the quake, but was reset quickly.
It compared in no way to the massive quake that struck Japan yesterday, and the aftershocks are still generating tsunami waves along that country's coast. I am learning that nearly twenty 9 ft tsunami waves came ashore at Crescent City CA over the past 24 hours.