I was raised in California and have experienced a handful of decent-sized earthquakes. I was never afraid of earthquakes as a child. I didn’t fully appreciate the magnitude of the damage they could cause. I can remember a number of times over the years when my parents would order my brother, sister and me out of bed to stand in our bedroom doorways with a semi-frantic look on their faces.
As a younger adult, I remember a few times when I would wake up to waves in my water bed and my macrame plant hanger swinging definitively (oh yes, I recognize this dates me). A bit alarming – especially coming out of a dead sleep – but I don’t recall being really afraid.
It was in the eighties though that I finally came to acquire an appropriate fear of earthquakes. That was the first time when I was the parent having to deal with protecting children in a earthquake. I remember literally grabbing kids out of bed – one in each arm – and bolting to the doorway. It is in those moments that the shaking seems to go on for minutes. In reality, it is a matter of seconds but the fear slows time.
After an earthquake there is a heightened sense of alert as you await possible aftershocks, but eventually you go back to what you were doing and forget about the event – until the next time.
The worst earthquake I recall in my time in California was the Northridge earthquake. That quake had a recorded magnitude of 6.7. By the grace of God, that earthquake happened in the early morning hours on a holiday (MLK’s Day). That reduced dramatically the death toll (still – 57 people lost their lives). It was horrific to see the power such an event had to crumble and collapse massive structures.
I have a firm appreciation these days of the devastation an earthquake can cause. The recent earthquake in Haiti in January and this mega 8.8 quake in Chile are blatant reminders of how unforgiving the earth can be.
God bless the earthquake victims in Haiti and Chile – their story could easily be the story of so many other places in the world in less than a minute. To appreciate the threat and the potential for damage around the world, is to note (as I have said time and time before) – but for the grace of God, there go I.
Day two hundred and thirty-seven of the new forty – obla di obla da