Saturday, October 17, 2009

Remembering Loma Prieta

Twenty years ago, this afternoon, I was stopped at a red light when I thought I had been hit from behind by another motorist. The car behind was too far away to be the culprit. At the same time the signal went into flashing mode and my radio station went off the air. Within the next mile I saw two more flashing signals and a broken water main.

I was commuting home through Orinda to Richmond along Camino Pablo and San Pablo Dam Road. I may have learned on the way that it had been an earthquake, in which case I would have fearing what I might see as I came near San Pablo Dam. Otherwise, I did not suspect anything until I came around the ridge into Richmond and saw smoke rising from San Francisco. I spent the rest of the evening glued to the TV and checking in with family and friends.

For most of us in the Bay Area the disaster never rose above the level of inconvenience. I had a day or two off work and never missed out on groceries. My electricity never failed. Perhaps we who have it so easy fail to appreciate the potential severity of such an event. Living in a society with good building codes and emergency services has shielded us from the level of suffering endured by so much of the world in disasters. For perspective; the death and destruction in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina is probably worth more than 50 years of seismic activity in all of California.

Here's hoping you take time to prepare for what is likely coming your way.

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