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.