OK, so here’s the deal. I’ve decided that Monday’s through Friday’s I will post articles about San Francisco. On the weekends if I get some time I’ll post bonus material that can be about anything in particular, stream of consciousness rants, whatever. I’ll call these wild weekend articles. That being said today I want to talk about…
Disasters. We hear about them all the time. Earthquakes in Japan, tornados in the midwest, hurricanes in the south and east. What I find funny is that people who live in the areas where it seems like they have to buy a new house every year have all said to me, California’s nice, but I could never live there because of the earthquakes.
I’ve lived in San Francisco my entire life and the only time there was a disaster that set us back was in 1989 when the 6.9 earthquake set us back a day. We lost power for about four hours and our phone lines were screwed up for about four days and that was it. Our house survived quite well as it was bolted to the foundation and the only thing in our house that got damaged was a ceramic goblet that I bought at the renaissance faire that fell off a shelf.
Yes, you don’t know when they are coming and when they do they’re usually very loud and scary, but they’re over shortly and life goes back to normal. I think the scene from L.A. Story where Steve Martin is sitting at a cafe with a group of people when an earthquake hits and they are all going about their business because it’s no big deal. It really isn’t that big a deal unless you might happen to live in a liquifaction area such as the Marina which really had only the area North of Chestnut street affected.
Yes, I did get hit with a few falling bricks and some flying glass shards from a broken window when the quake hit in 1989, but because we get quakes often enough we know what to do and we’re prepared. So why is it then that other parts of the country that get hit by large hurricanes and tornados every year get warnings and aren’t prepared? Looks like a cat 5 is coming, ah nothing to worry about we’ll get by. Seriously? I know a lot of friends in hurricane country who do get out in time and hope their home is still there when they get back and in a lot of cases it is there, but they still get affected in some way much worse that us people who live in earthquake country. Like having to throw out their refrigerators because of the toxic mess that’s accumulated in the week or so they’ve been gone and the fridge has been off.
Well what about the Northridge quake? Yep, that one was pretty bad when it happened over 30 years ago. We don’t get blizzard conditions in the winter or heat waves in the summer. We’re lucky to see the temperature go past 100° for more than a couple of days [except for perhaps in Needles, CA]. There are parts of California that do fall prey to flooding, but they’re on the coast and if you want to avoid flooding, don’t live on the coast. I recently looked at the weather departments predicitions of a tsunami hitting San Francisco and as long as you live above 46th avenue in the Sunset above La Playa in the Richmond you’ll be fine. That’s only two blocks that would be affected.
There was a recent study done on the San Andreas fault that showed that it would never be capable of delivering a quake much above a 7.6 at this point in time. So earthquakes aren’t really something you need to be too afraid of here in California. They’re just a little surprise wake up call to make sure you’re prepared.