Writing Out Loud: EARTHQUAKE…AFTERSHOCK

By George Stahl

It’s been six days since two earthquakes rolled through Ridgecrest, giving people a jolt down US 395 into San Bernardino, Riverside, and across state lines into Nevada, where the dice tables were moving in Las Vegas. Some people even say they felt it as far east as Arizona. Keeping it in California though, there were reports of people and dogs feeling the earth move down into Los Angeles, over to Bakersfield, and points beyond. In other words, there were a whole lot of people who felt the quakes that made Ridgecrest famous.

It’s all over the news, in newspapers, online, and just about anywhere where people get their latest information. The earthquakes and their aftershocks are center stage, and in turn, everyone has an idea as to what to do when these things happen. Thursday’s shaker was a 6.4 and Friday’s a 7.1 magnitude.

Of course, you remember where you were when the 6.4 happened, and maybe even more so when the 7.1 struck. It’s like asking where were you when Kennedy was shot, or what were you doing when America landed on the moon. We all remember those days. We may not always see how they fit into our lives today, but nevertheless, we remember where we were, and what we were doing.

Remember when we heard that O.J. Simpson was running from the police for murdering his ex-wife and her friend? There are just some things we will not forget. We might not think about them constantly, but they are in the back of our minds, somewhere in the dark. Now, there will have to be some shifting around in that back area of our memories and room will be found to keep the recent events of our lives tucked away to be brought out on occasion. Maybe in conversation, maybe just in self-reflection.

But what are you doing now? Is it earthquake related? Do you say, fine, it’s over? We have another 20 years before we have anything like that again. Is now when these events get stored in that back room of your mind?

What have you done since Thursday and Friday? Do you have an escape plan? An emergency escape bag? What about one of those survival kits? Do you have one? If you do, where is it? Can you get to it if one way is blocked off, and time is running out for you to get out? Does that sound ridiculous? What? You say you don’t need to keep a kit somewhere; you’d know what to do when the ‘big one’ hits. If that’s the case, then you are truly one of the lucky ones. Then again, if you think you are that guy, and it turns out you’re not., how lucky will you be then? There is a saying that goes so far back, its origin is unknown. It says, ‘to err on the side of caution.’ Just because you think you know how you will react, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will. What were you prepared to do last week if you needed to? For you, and for your family. Don’t set yourself up for a life changing aftershock of your own.

The earthquakes last week were the largest in Southern California in the past 20 years. For some of the people in them, they were the largest they had ever felt in their lives, yet, officials, whoever they are, still use the term, ‘wait until the big one hits.’ How big do they want to see before one of these is large enough to be called the ‘big one.’ Will California have to sink into the Pacific Ocean? If so, it may be a good idea to buy land in Nevada and Arizona if you want a beach house in the future. Ask any of those people who live in Ridgecrest or Trona if they saw these as little tremors? At least one of them would say the big one has already been to their town.

Not to lessen the affects of this disaster, but if these would have happened in a more heavily populated area, either of them would have been looked at as the ‘big one.’ I guess that despite how tragic these earthquakes were, they are only doing what the earth has to do. She can only go so long before she has to turn a little and relieve some of the pressure on her plates. Here, these plates happened to be under some people. Not unlike the tornados in the Midwest, the floods in Texas, the monsoons and haboobs in Arizona, and the hurricanes on the eastern seaboard. They are going to happen, and what we need to do is see that, and to be prepared the best we can.

This time, fortunately, no one died, some people had minor injuries and damage was, although pretty thorough, still minimal, considering. So, having an emergency kit and an escape plan is comparable to wearing a life jacket in the Kern River. It may not be a guarantee, but it does everything to increases your chances of survival.

Some are saying that what we had last Thursday and Friday were wake up calls. People tend to forget over time, and as life goes on as normal, things like this just don’t happen, at least not to us. Some of the people in the valley are still feeling the trauma of the Erskine Fire, but others have, as they say, ‘moved on.’ Just do so without forgetting. Be prepared, the life you save may belong to someone that you really care about.