August 24, 2011

Shaky Ground

When I considered moving to California from the east coast, I was deciding between two jobs: California and Florida. As my dad, so eloquently put it, I was deciding between hurricanes and earthquakes. Well I choose earthquakes. Turns out, the east coast just experienced an earthquake bigger than any I’ve felt in California!

We just had two 3.6s. Twin earthquakes on same fault. The local newspapers are now all abuzz about the big one we’re overdue for. It’s not bad enough that the Hayward fault has already generated a possibly 7.0 in 1858, some geologists think we might be underestimating the potential of the Hayward fault. Some believe that the Hayward and Calaveras faults may be connected, and could generate a 7.2 or 7.4 if they slip together (2 to 4 times greater than a 7.0!). And let us not forget the San Andreas fault which is just a little further West.

We were in Hawaii for the Tsuanmi after Japan’s 9.0 (and by the way, holy aftershock batman!) I was in California for the 5.6 Alam Rock, which originated from the Calaveras fault.

My fear of earthquakes is part of the reason we didn’t register for nice china when we got married. (Okay, only a small part. Buying a complete set is so much cheaper than purchasing individual settings separately, we figured we would just purchase our “pattern” when started entertaining.) It’s also making me re-think the HDTV. The nice thing about the rear projection TV is it’s heavy. Like 100lbs heavy. Any earthquake big enough to take that sucker down is going to leave a smoking crater where our house is. Of course that might be overkill, given the prediction for The Big One is a 64% probability of a 6.7 or greater in the next 25 years. Still, it’s always good to be prepared.

We keep flashlights on both floors, so in the event of a power outage we wouldn’t have to wonder far. That is, assuming the flashlights haven’t done any of the wondering. We also have bottle of drinking water hidden in the back of the pantry. It’s pretty unfathomable to me that we couldn’t just get in a car and go someplace to get food. I didn’t live though the last one which destroyed highways. With my campus 90 miles from home, we’ve also discussed what we would do if separated – including staying on campus overnight if it’s not clear that the roads are safe. Internet and land lines might go down, and cell circuits tend to get jammed in natural disasters, so it’s good to have a plan in place.

Here’s hoping we never have to test our earthquake disaster preparedness.

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