Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Happy, Happy Quake Day!

It’s the 100th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. As this recent study warned, “if that same magnitude 7.9 temblor strikes again along the San Andreas Fault, the toll would be far, far worse.” More specifically, according to what the article calls a “chilling forecast,” “At least 3,400 people in a 19-county region from Mendocino to San Benito would die if the quake struck during the day when streets were filled, offices were occupied and children were in school; if it hit at night—at, say, 2 a.m.—the death toll would fall to at least 1,850.”

Did other people have the same reaction to this as I did? I know I live in at least as much denial as the next person. People like me who have lived here all our lives are even more in denial than most residents: “Earthquakes? I know all about ‘em. I’m used to ‘em. No problem.” Of course nothing I’ve experienced in my lifetime, including the big 1989 quake, would be anything like a really big one.

I keep some emergency water and food supplies on hand, but I’m not at all prepared the way I should be. And I’m afraid “chilling forecasts” just do not have the desired effect. All I thought was, “3,400 people killed—at the worst?” There are millions of people in the Bay Area! Rather than chilling me, this made me jump for joy! My chances of surviving The Big One are roughly 999 out of 1,000! I always assumed a really big quake would kill tens of thousands of people, if not hundreds of thousands. My life expectancy has just gone way up! (And yes, I know this is just another form of denial.)


Diane K. Martin said...

I know exactly what you mean. (Having lived here 30 years, I'm practically native.) You can't be prepared, not really. I'm aware, but it's a different thing. I mean, I don't have a glass-framed poster above my bed, you know?

But our foundation is not bolted (too much dry rot), the food one buys goes past its date.... Maybe it's just that you can't really live waiting for the shoe to fall.

When we first lived here, I felt every temblor, like the time my in-laws were visiting and we had sleeping bags on the floor. During the '89 quake, my seven-year-old, watching the Series on TV, slid across the living room in his socks and joined me under the solid oak dining room table. The back basement door went out of alignment a bit and a small piece of porcelain fell and broke.

Anyway, the Catholic church on our street is called St. Emydius. I'm not Catholic, but I was told by John's uncle the priest that he is patron saint of earthquakes. So, heh, we're safe, right?


Later today I will post about why this blog and the website it's part of were down all of yesterday. Don't tell me you didn't notice!

C. Dale said...

I was much more afraid of hurricanes when I lived in FL.