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Earthquakes. The big shake.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

At 6:01 am, on February 9, 1971, I awoke to a sound that I could only think of as some kind of nuclear explosion. It was a roar, a noise I was completely unfamiliar with. Then the house started rocking, and my younger sisters started screaming. Earthquake. It was the first earthquake I had experienced in my San Fernando Valley (yep, I'm a "valley girl") childhood, and the epicenter of this one, was 20 miles from my childhood home. I will never forget that morning, the sounds, the inability to get any information, as the electricity was down, all phones were landlines, and the only information came from the AM radios we had. We were unprepared, and we learned a lot that day. There was an estimated $500 million in damage. Freeways collapsed, along with a few hospitals. It was a huge disaster, but also a wake-up call for Southern California. Laws were enacted state-wide to ensure buildings were earthquake safe. All kids alive that morning, had a new concept of the place we lived, and the precariousness of our lives. That earthquake rocked at 6.6 on the richter scale, and the aftershocks went on for a few days. We were lucky. We lived in a place that was relatively flat, with homes built in the last half century, most on a flat surface.

Was anyone in Los Angeles, and more specifically, the San Fernando Valley, where I lived, prepared? Not whatsoever. Earthquake drills were minimal, there was no information readily available to most of us. What I will never forget is how we all behaved afterward, as if earthquakes were no big deal, and we didn't even bother to get under a doorway until the overhead lighting started really swinging. Earthquakes are odd, because they shake everything. I looked out the window that morning, as I was holding my screaming little sisters under the doorway, and saw the house next door shaking violently. It changes you, because you no longer believe wholly in the integrity of your home. The EARTH moves.

I was thinking about this, reading about the devastation in Italy over the past few days. Some "aftershocks" can be almost as powerful as the original earthquake. They unnerve you, as you no longer trust the foundation where you stand. Those people in Italy, living in a historic, old area, never had a chance. Stone buildings do not withstand the pressure from the ground. Old structures, built before rebar, and building codes, are in for a world of hurt with an earthquake.

I now live in Minnesota, and have heard so many times, how afraid people are of earthquakes. I am not. I know I can survive, if I am in a structure, built with codes enough to make it. I am never afraid of anything. If it comes, I will handle it. A good way to live life, not being afraid, and being able to face anything that I could come across.

Be safe today.

Spark on.
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  • no profile photo INCH_BY_INCH
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1639 days ago
  • DS9KIE
    1788 days ago
    I lived in the Valley, 1971 & that earth quake. We were in Van Nuys. My sweetheart, & now husband, lived in Sylmar, the 'hit' was 1 mile away! The hill in his back yard, moved into the pool. I believe that is why he & his family was saved from ALLOT of danger. They had to replace the carpets. That's it! This experience keeps our pantry VERY full of everything we would need for about 2 weeks.

    My life today: emoticon 8-31=16 Bye bye August.... You were VERY rewarding! Re- Grouping after trip. Over ate WAY more than I should have. Ready to 'get back to it', as it makes me SO much happier, so much more energy, back to eating my 'real' way!! Tomorrow we get back to work & play & Zumba. emoticon

    1791 days ago
    I lived in San Francisco in 1989 when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit. It was astonishing how much damage could occur with just 15 seconds of shaking. People out in the street, neighbors talking who had never spoken to each other - it was just astonishing. I was so sad to hear about all the lives lost in Italy. There are so many ancient buildings and huge potential for damage. It could have been worse, but the survivors know how to do just that - survive.

    I'm glad you have those memories, just as I do from 1989. Those moments change us, and make us better.

    1795 days ago
  • no profile photo JEANNETTE59
    For me it was Hurricanes, including one on a ship in the middle of the ocean.

    What I learned very early was that everyone needs to learn at least basic first aid. Learn CPR, and how to help a drowning victim, learn how and where to tie a tourniquet, learn how to make a splint and have First Kits in your vehicles and your home.
    1796 days ago
    1796 days ago
    Experiences like this give us a great perspective on what we CAN deal with - and it's often more than we would have guessed!
    1797 days ago
    It just goes to show you that we can live through anything. I never had your experience but my world got really shuck up when I was a young teenager. I came through it with flying colors. Take care.
    1797 days ago
    Amen. I was in high school that year, and I remember the news stories. Funny how things can be horrible and devastating, and yet the human spirit becomes stronger! Spark on!
    1797 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    1798 days ago
    1798 days ago
    What a frightening experience that shows how small we and our civilization are copared to the forces of the planet.
    I agree, fear and worry doesn't help. Being prepared does, as much as possible, but we can never know.
    1798 days ago
    I remember that day. Having lived in Minnesota my entire life I have had no experience with earthquakes. I think once or twice we may have had a tiny little ground shake but never anything to be concerned with. I am, however, respectful of storms. I am not afraid - as you said, if it comes I will handle it. July 3, 1983 we lived through the straight line wind that came through like a freight train. My twin boys were napping and I had just laid down across the hall from them. My husband yelled "grab the boys and get downstairs, NOW!" I could hear the sound rushing by as I headed for the basement with two sleeping 1 year olds in my arms. It was over in a flash and we were very lucky to have not sustained much damage. One window on my next door neighbor's house was pulled off and one of our very large trees came down in the back yard - just touching the roof. My now husband was actually in his car when it happened - the wind picked the car up and spun it around. Like 1CRAZYDOG above, we have supplies in our pantry downstairs and when the weatherman says be ready, we make sure our important things are downstairs too - money, medicines, laptops and pets! It hasn't happened again to me but I know what to do!

    p.s. Good to hear from you today!
    1798 days ago
    OH boy, living thru an earthquake puts things in perspective as far as preparedness. I learned that lesson only via tornadoes. Plural. Yes. We'd just moved into our house perhaps a month earlier. Heard that iconic sound like a train, but . . . it wasn't a train. Looked out the window and saw all manner of EVERYTHING swirling around. Got down into the basement and thankfully, survived and minimal damage. that scene was repeated several time in my life, but subsequently, I was prepared with water, canned goods that didn't need cooking, can opener (of course!), battery powered radio and a supply of the meds needed to get us thru at least a week.

    Yes, it DOES reduce fear when you know you're prepared, at least to the best of your ability.
    1798 days ago
    Keep on keeping on!

    Make today the greatest day of your lifeā€¦
    emoticon Until tomorrow!

    1798 days ago
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