Everybody’s talking about a story that ran in the New Yorker magazine and newyorker.com this week called “The Really Big One,” about what would happen if (or really, when) a really big earthquake hits the Pacific Northwest. And it’s pretty scary:
Soon after that shaking begins, the electrical grid will fail, likely everywhere west of the Cascades and possibly well beyond. If it happens at night, the ensuing catastrophe will unfold in darkness. In theory, those who are at home when it hits should be safest; it is easy and relatively inexpensive to seismically safeguard a private dwelling. But, lulled into nonchalance by their seemingly benign environment, most people in the Pacific Northwest have not done so. That nonchalance will shatter instantly. So will everything made of glass. Anything indoors and unsecured will lurch across the floor or come crashing down: bookshelves, lamps, computers, cannisters of flour in the pantry. Refrigerators will walk out of kitchens, unplugging themselves and toppling over. Water heaters will fall and smash interior gas lines. Houses that are not bolted to their foundations will slide off . . .
The article predicts 13,000 deaths, and says that everything west of I-5 will be wiped out. There’s a lot more, but you get the idea. Yeah, it’s not pretty.
Let’s face it, we all know that we live in earthquake territory, and as this Seattle Times story pointed out yesterday, we’ve known it for quite awhile. So what are we supposed to do while we wait for this disaster to take us by surprise? How about getting at least a little prepared by putting an earthquake kit together? Here’s a good list of stuff you’ll need. It’s also smart to have a family emergency plan, so you can get in touch with loved ones in the aftermath of a seismic event. Here’s a good checklist for that.
We live in a beautiful part of the world . . . but we do need to be prepared in case the worst happens, and then we can go about our lives knowing we’ve done the best we could for our families.