Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Great Earthquate Shake Out

Our campus is participating in a Southern-California earthquake response simulation. In about 55 minutes, I'll be calling in damage reports to our response center. People on subways will find that the vehicles have slowed to a crawl.

This is supposed to represent a 7.8 earthquake. The 1994 Northridge quake was 6.8, so this would be 1000 times worse. 1994 was bad enough, thank you. But I'd rather have an earthquake than a tornado or hurricane any day. The worst is over pretty quickly.

Like most people, I'm sure my house is no longer ready for another big quake. The mess that broken alcohol bottles and jelly beans can make on your floor is something I will never forget. Then there was the dancing refrigerator which moved about 3 feet into the center of the kitchen. The fallen book shelves were not much fun to put back (and they had been nailed into the wall!) It was 10 days before we stopped sleeping in the living room because being trapped in the bedrooms during aftershocks was a scary thought.

And, of course, we still laugh about my mother calling before the first shaking had stopped. She was watching the morning news when the special report came through during Eastern Standard Time. I had better things to do than work my way through broken glass in the dark to the only phone working in the house--which I told her before I hung up. The phone didn't work again until a day later. Electricity was out for at least a day. It took a week to get the gas back on. But people were outside barbequing while back east, the snow and ice was so bad there was no school for a week. A friend said "I'd rather have your disaster." I agreed.

It was the first time I remember relying on on-line communication to find out how people were doing. List serves kept reporting when someone had been heard from. Friends who were able to reach us by phone (when they worked again) would then post to let others know we were all right.


Grey Horse Matters said...

I'm not sure I agree with you about preferring an earthquake to a snowstorm. I'll take the storms. My thinking being that earthquakes really do a lot of damage and are dangerous where as if you know how to deal with snow and ice, it's pretty cozy in the house by the fire with a good book.

Victoria Cummings said...

Having lived through the Northridge quake and a couple of other biggies, I'll be the first to say that I hope I never have to be in another earthquake. Snowstorms, I can deal with. There's something about the movement of the earth under my feet - or being thrown to the ground because it's shaking so hard you can't stand up - that just freaks me out. The precautionary drill is a good idea, but I sure hope that you don't find yourself caught in a real quake any time soon!

Flying Lily said...

I think this drill is a great idea and hope it isn't too scary for people. I've only experienced little tremors (years ago in San Diego) but they were so weird and disorienting.

Victoria Cummings said...

Hey Christine - Hoping and praying that you guys are doing okay with the Sylmar fire. I'm thinking of you!