#SOL18 An Earthquake Can Ruin Your Whole Day
There was an earthquake east of Kodiak Island Alaska overnight that’s got me changing my plans.
You see, I live in a place where we joke about “The Big One.” Portland, OR lies smack dab in the action of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, where the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate is subducting, or moving under, the North American tectonic plate. Badness, big badness, can occur at any time.
We joke about earthquakes because, here, earthquakes are no joking matter.
The 2015 New Yorker article put the problem into the national spotlight. It’s a cheery piece, as you might guess from the title: “The Really Big One: An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when.” Then there’s the 2016 CNN report, “The quake-maker you’ve never heard of: Cascadia.”
Portland lies on both sides of the wide Willamette River, connected by 12 different bridges. It’s anticipated that all, or most, of these will collapse. (Here’s a nifty animation of what could happen to one of the bridges during an 8.0 earthquake.) This is problematic for us– my husband usually rides his bike over the Hawthorne Bridge to get to work. (Note to self: we still need to make a plan about this….)
I’m not sure we’ll be able to get to our daughter’s house. (Note to self: we still need to make a plan for contact….) Our brother-in-law is a coordinator for his neighborhood emergency team (I’m on the waiting list for the next training) so we probably won’t hear from him immediately. Our sister-in-law is far out enough from the city center that she would likely not suffer from serious effects. We could ride our bikes there– if they are not mangled in debris. (Note to self: We have got to coordinate a family communication plan….)
We’ve done what we can. The house has been bolted to the foundation. The automatic gas main shut off has been installed. The grandfather clock is tethered to the wall. I wish the earthquake latches were attached to the kitchen cabinet doors; maybe next weekend.
Newly inspired by the news from Alaska, I’m adjusting my plans for the day. I’ll put final touches on our earthquake preparations. I’ll scan the last of the vital documents the Red Cross says we’ll need; I’ll upload them into the cloud and onto a flash drive and print a copy for the fireproof, waterproof lockbox. I’ll add cash, all small bills. I’ll dig out the solar cellphone charger we use when we’re camping and add it to the last items I’m lugging to the garage: the winding emergency radio, extra flashlights, particle-filtering face masks. These will join two weeks of food and 30+ gallons of water, sleeping bags and tent, first aid kit…. As the Red Cross speaker said, “Think of post-earthquake Portland as ‘camping comes to you’!”
If I thought too much about it, I’d be a quivering wreck. Actually, I’d probably be curled in the fetal position under my bed. Except the Red Cross trainer said being under the bed is one of the worst places to be. (Note to self: Consider thinking about safe places to curl up.) But I have a strict rule in place. I am never, ever, under any circumstance, to dwell on a sentence that begins, “What if_______.”
Right now, in this moment, the house is warm. My husband and I are home together; everyone in the Portland family is safe. We’ve done almost everything we can. (Note to self: Put the crowbar under the bed!)
I remind myself, there’s always only the moment.
In this one, I’m grateful.
Image license CC BY-NC 2.0
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