Thursday, October 18, 2007

Shaky Anniversary

I had forgotten this, but yesterday was the 18th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake.

I was in college in Tacoma at the time, and a friend of mine had just driven up from San Francisco that day. My housemates and I, with my friend, were munching crackers and smoked salmon (made by the Native American stepfather of one of my housemates) during what we called "cocktail hour" when a fellow I was seeing, who had been at home watching the pregame show for the World Series, called. He didn't have a phone and had driven to his friend's house to tell me about the earthquake (we didn't have a tv set, and probably wouldn't have been watching it anyway).

We found a tv; one of our unofficial housemates had a small tv tucked away in the basement. It was hard to understand the pictures since no one really knew what was going on, and since the fire in the Marina was getting most of the attention it was hard to know how the rest of the city had fared.

My friend and I immediately started making phone calls. It took me several tries to get through to Mom, and while I was talking to her my aunt called me from New England. Mom had called her first in case lines got too crowded to get calls in or out, so my aunt could call me and No (who was at San Diego State then) and let us know Mom was all right. My friend talked to his family, who were also all right. He was feeling strange, as it seemed like he had left town just in time to miss the quake.

As time went on, the people I waited for news of their situation grew. It really felt like a ripple; the circle got wider and wider as I wondered, "What happened to....?" Mom had just sat down for a meeting with two other people, and they ducked under the desk, a table, and stood in the doorway. Mom's house is on bedrock and she worked close to home, where nothing was damaged. The Singhs lost a couple of tea cups at their house, but the building next door to the warehouse where most of them were working that afternoon fell down. Mom's friend Kupia, who lives in the Marina, had to move out for a few weeks. An acquaintance of one of my housemates survived the sandwiching of 880 in Oakland.

Now they are telling us that an earthquake on the Hayward Fault is due anytime. I've been hearing that all the years I've lived here, though when I was a kid it was the San Andreas Fault that was going to destroy everything (as it was in 1906 and 1989). We lives up the street from the Hayward Fault, but it's just as likely that Zirpu and I would be at work when an earthquake happens. I hope we're not, because both of us work on the other side of bridges and tunnels from home. I really hope we're not on our way between home and work.

We live on the edge of the continent, along a couple of fault lines. We have a responsibility to be prepared.

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