I hate, despise, abhor, loathe and very strongly dislike earthquakes.
I’ve lived in Southern California my entire life and while I don’t really remember the Whittier Narrows quake in ’87 (I was 5), I very clearly remember the Northridge quake in ’94. I was 11 and it was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day which meant we had the day off school – and I think I spent most of it glued to the TV watching the aftermath. It has been, by far, the most terrifying earthquake I’ve experienced and you would think I would be used to them by now.
Nope, not so much! When I moved to North Hills in 2007 (North Hills is just minutes from Northridge), there were several small-ish earthquakes within the first few weeks that I lived there. Comforting when living in an old apartment building…alone…I think I hurdled several stacks of boxes to the only door frame in the apartment (the bathroom).
In 2008 there was the quake just before noon on July 29. A 5.5 centered out near Diamond Bar. I was at yearbook camp at Pepperdine at the time. It wasn’t strong, but the building we were in creaked every time someone opened an exterior door, so I was jumpy the rest of the week!
Then there was that quake we had back in March…the 4.4 at 4:04 a.m. had me bolting straight from a dead sleep to hugging the door frame to our bedroom. Yes, I know they say you shouldn’t stand in doorways anymore, but it’s a force of habit! I was already on edge because of the Haiti and Chile quakes a few weeks earlier. I know it’s just a matter of time before we get a big one.
Reminders of this fact came again on Easter with the 7.2 near Mexicali. I felt it, but didn’t realize it was an earthquake until later. I just felt really nauseous and light-headed (from what I thought were the fumes from texture-coating my sister’s house). Another reminder on June 15…a 5.7 aftershock, this time north of the border near El Centro. And yet another reminder yesterday – near Borrego Springs. While not an aftershock, the 5.4 was likely triggered by the Easter quake.
So…when will all this trigger the San Andreas? I guess I don’t like the quakes because of the uncertainty. You can’t prepare for it or get out of its way like a hurricane or tornado. It’s not predictable at all and can happen at any moment, not just when the weather is right (contrary to those who believe in “earthquake weather”). Once it starts shaking, you never know if it’s going to keep going, get strong, change from rolling to jolting to rattling. And of course, I’m not properly prepared.
Getting my earthquake kit is one of the things on my 101 list and after each quake, I vow to make sure I am ready for the next one. And then the jitters fade and I go on with life until the next quake. Well, not this time!
John and I actually (finally) put up rope across the storage shelves in the garage since we sit right next to it while watching TV (where I’ve been for the last two quakes). I know in a major earthquake, it probably won’t keep much from falling, but I’m hoping it will keep it from falling long enough for us to move out of the way! This weekend I’m going to make sure we’re set for flashlights and shoes and actually make our earthquake kit – probably will be just the bare essentials for now. I’m finally taking a proactive approach to all of this and maybe…just maybe…I won’t be so paranoid about earthquakes anymore.