Thursday, March 1, 2007

Shake it up, baby, now

How many times have I talked to someone from the Midwest who says, "You're from California? What about those earthquakes? Aren't you scared?"?

I want to say, "Well, aren't YOU scared of tornadoes?"

We just had a 4.2 earthquake centered in Berkeley this evening (2140 PST). It jerked the house and rattled the rickety bookshelf where Zirpu keeps his Rubik's cube collection. Zirpu and I looked at each other, waiting to see if it was going to last long enough to get in the doorway.

I didn't really think about earthquakes that much until Katrina hit Mississippi and Louisiana and those awful pictures came out of New Orleans (maybe because I wasn't here for the 1989 earthquake, the one that postponed the World Series). After that, I thought, "That that could be us: Without the flooding, but with a lot more rubble." It didn't help that at the time I was working in a building that was described as "the tallest building on campus before the earthquake, and the longest afterward."

I became an evangelist for emergency preparedness. Like a lot of evangelists (or the famous ones anyway) I'm not as prepared for the emergency as some people, but I certainly preach the gospel, keeping a readiness list in my PDA to share like Chick Tracts. During Halloween of 2005 I handed out Smart & Finals' Readiness list along with bite-size Milky Ways. This is the list around which my friend who is a Neighborhood Emergency Response Team member and her household built their "earthquake box" (actually they have a shed), so we built ours around it too.

It occurs to me as I write this that I started hanging out in Vernonia, OR, about six months after it was flooded by the Nehalem River in 1996. At that time, the high water marks on the buildings, particularly the high school, were quite obvious. The house of friends floated off its foundation but not away, held in place by pipes. Another friend had a tree fall through her living room. But by the time I met them, only the water marks remained and I didn't really understand what they had been through. Until the flooding caused by Katrina.

The earthquake will happen, someday, and since we don't plan to leave (and live where there are tornadoes? You've got to be kidding!), we have to hedge ourselves against what happens afterwards. The frame of our house is bolted to the foundation and our Quake Box and water are easy to reach. A pair of boots, jeans, and a sweater live in the trunk of the car. I have "ICE" (in case of emergency) next to two out-of-area names in my cell phone and we keep our documents in a fire safe.

My NERT friend pointed out that the best way to help in an emergency is to not need help. I'm doing my best to not need help. I'd much rather be in a position to give it.

1 comment:

Saipan Writer said...

I'm originally from the Midwest. Tornados don't seem nearly as unpredictable or catastrophic as earthquakes--but I guess it's all what you're used to.

Where I live now we have typhoons. Oh yeah, there's been the occasional earthquake tremor (and damage on neighboring Guam). And last week we had volcanic ash fallout from an island north of us. Did I mention I'm on a tiny island in the Pacific, so we also get tsunami warnings?

Go--Ring of Fire. Hey, we don't have tornados!

Yeah, it's all what you get used to. You can only be so prepared o the mortal side. So it might also help to prepare on the spiritual side, too. I've got some work to do.

P.S. Thanks for stopping by my blog.