That’s not a swarm of bees…Better update YOUR emergency supplies!

English: Bull's eye graphic for use with earth...

English: Bull’s eye graphic for use with earthquake location maps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sitting at my work station today alert signals were sounding off on my phone, iPad and computer as both national and local news apps tracked Tropical Storm Isaac. We may be clear across the country, but we are still very concerned. One CNN alert posted, “New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast faced the anniversary of devastating Hurricane Katrina by hunkering down for new storm amid ‘a high level of anxiety,’ as the Crescent City’s mayor put it Monday.”

Yep! I’d be more than a little anxious, too! We were in Florida several years ago with a hurricane on its way and I felt anxious just watching the local community boarding up glass storefronts while observing hotel personnel shift activity into high gear with well-practiced emergency preparation. I can’t be sure how I’d adjust in a situation where I knew a disaster might be in the making.

I’ve always said that although earthquakes certainly frighten me, we can’t anticipate the ground moving, so the fear factor is at least diminished. It’s difficult to fear what is more random than predictable. That is, unless you’re currently living in the Imperial Valley. More than 400 earthquakes, termed an earthquake swarm, have struck over the last two days at approximately the same epicenter, near Brawley, California. The largest quake yesterday afternoon, magnitude 5.5, hit the farming town with a decent wallop.

I looked it up. Brawley is 192 miles from my home in San Gabriel. I haven’t felt any movement, but just listening to all the talk has me a little jumpy.  Like most native Californians, I know just enough to get myself in a lather if I choose to think about the “what ifs.”

I know a fair share of information about tectonic plates. I can reasonably discuss strike-slips, thrust faults and subduction. I know how to read data from the Southern California Seismic Network, and if from around here we ALL know Kate Hutton, nicknamed “Earthquake Kate,” from Pasadena’s Cal-Tech Seismological Laboratory. Kate, along with her colleague Dr. Lucy Jones of the US Geological Survey, are the public faces every Southern California resident needs to know when looking to understand a current quake event or question fact from myth.

If I think about earthquakes with any level of concentration I can easily work into major anxiety. But like most people who live in earthquake areas, we also live in a bit of denial.  Earthquakes are certainly not confined to California, and in response to the Coney Island earthquake of 1884, the New York Times published an article which described behaviors that remind me  of the time our large family  gathered around the table at an Easter dinner when an earthquake hit. We barely missed a beat as the room rocked and chandelier circled our heads.

“Almost before you have had time to feel surprised at the suddenness of the interruption (for the earth never stops to apologize) it is all over; and you pick up the teapot with a smile, continuing the conversation with the greatest attainable politeness, as if nothing at all unusual had happened meanwhile.”

So typical. And so true–unless it’s not a small temblor! Sometimes the jolt is fierce enough to do some serious damage. And we have had those, too. I still get a little queasy if I think about our experiences with the October 1, 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake–we did have damage!

Seismologists have indicated the frequency of these current spasms doesn’t in any way indicate a likelihood for something bigger yet to come. These same earthquake swarms shook this region in the 1930s and the late 1970s, but the swarm will likely last for days, possibly weeks.

Since it’s very hard for me to tune out a “swarm” of anything, it seems prudent to be more productive rather than fearful.

We are putting a little boost of energy into updating our home earthquake preparation and supplies.

Even Kidspace Children’s Museum has earthquake preparation information for children and families.

It’s time to add a few more items to the measly canned good collection. Many of the other necessary items have been pulled out of stock for use and not replaced. I’m not like the Simpsons’ character Ned , believing insurance to be a form of gambling–my well-being rests better at night with a little forethought, planning and preparation.

So as we work on gathering our earthquake supplies I’ll be sharing some stories from our southland experiences. Since we were ultimately safe in the 1987 quake, although there was damage to the home and it was indeed very frightening, there are also some funny stories I will share. Family lore can be created around the strangest experiences!

Meanwhile, all good thoughts are being much more strategically directed to the people in the path of Isaac. Call it a tropical storm, fine, but any storm that is a hurricane in the making is a serious weather event. I hope it doesn’t gain much strength, but even a Category One hurricane is no small wonder if you’re the one sitting in its path.

So tonight I’m paying attention, on a little alert, but breathing lighter. We have a plan!

Debra

36 thoughts on “That’s not a swarm of bees…Better update YOUR emergency supplies!

  1. Nice to read this article. I am very glad to hear that you are considering these preparations as many people do not. Let me know if you need any suggestions as this is something I devote time to and have helped a few people set up some basic home preparedness supplies. Better safe than sorry.
    Love, (An)drew

    • There really isn’t any place to avoid the forces of nature, is there, Penny? I think preparedness is where my mind is right now. I’ve heard about “the big one” coming my whole life, so I must admit I can tune out that message easily. I’d be more concerned about tornadoes I think! They seem more powerful and destructive. D

  2. I do low level grumbling about our weather, but this just makes me so glad that I don’t live in an area of extremes :) Good earthquake planning! (not a phrase I’ve ever considered saying before)

    • Rogue storms and weather events seem to come into my consciousness the more we have global news. I suppose a terrible drought would be almost as devastating as an earthquke. I don’t worry much, but I am a good planner. Or maybe a more truthful statement would be that I move in and out of being a good planner! :-)

  3. I’m sorry you have to plan and prepare for such awful events but like you say, better to be prepared than caught unaware. I grew up on a fault-line and we had constant tremors and many earthquakes and they really are frightening. I’m very grateful to be living in Sydney where earthquakes don’t happen xx

    • I didn’t realize that Sydney was not on active faults. I really did think that New Zealand and Australia were in active fault zones. There isn’t much we can do, and since I’m very aware that danger is really everywhere, I don’t focus on the concern as much as I want to be prepared for the aftermath. I’ll tell you what has come to mind a lot this summer, Charlie. Your story about Archie’s friend killed in that totally random act of violence. I think of his family a lot. I think stories of this kind of unexpected and shocking outcomes tells me it does not good to be worried about what might happen tomorrow. But I still prepare! :-) D

  4. Earthquakes and tornadoes scare me more than any other weather events. I’m glad you’re prepared but hope you don’t need to use any of it! Sending positive thoughts and wishes your way Debra.

    • I am sure quite sure I would unravel in the time it takes to prepare and anticipate a tornado! I look at news footage of whole towns wiped out, and I don’t know how anyone ever gets over that. I think emergency preparation is important for everyone. Just look at the weird storms we’ve had this past year! oxo

  5. I’ve never been through even the mildest of tremors. Considering how many injuries and how much damage can result, it’s an experience I can live without. You’re certainly wise, Debra, to update your emergency provisions. With luck, you’ll never need them but, if you ever do, they’ll be worth their weight in gold. I had hoped that NoLa’s new levees wouldn’t be tested for years, even decades, to come. Now I’m hoping that Isaac is kind.

    • Thanks, John. I think preparation and having a thought about not holding onto things too tightly makes earthquakes less of an emotional threat. I have known people to move out of California to avoid “shakers” and I never understood that. Where would you go to avoid major climate or weather events? I do like to have some measure of preparedness, though, knowing that even having our power out for a few days last December we didn’t feel we were all that prepared. I can procrastinate unpleasant things with the greatest of ease! D

  6. Debra, I do hope everything calms down: what-ifs are so exhausting to fret about, but I’d be just the same, I am sure. Really holding my breath for everyone out there facing tremors,and indeed Isaac. It’s a fraught time of year.

    • I’m glad we’re not feeling the tremors that are hiccuping the Imperial Valley. That would certainly be unnerving. A healthy concern does motivate me to be prepared, and that’s more to the point of where I am right now. We easily fall into complacency, and that’s just foolish. All eyes are on New Orleans today! That really is an emergency situation! D

  7. We’re getting tons of Isaac-related rain where I am on the East Coast. If the projected track up the center of the country holds, I know they could use the rain in the center of the country. Just crossing fingers that it doesn’t do damage when it strikes.

    I will say, too, that it is hard to live in a hurricane prone area, not necessarily because of the storms, which are a fact of living here, but because of the hot air our news people blow. They whip people into frenzies over the least little thing. I fear for when we really do have another Hugo here in Charleston, because people have heard ‘wolf!’ so many times now, I don’t know how many of them would actually leave.

    • I’ve certainly been watching the reports of Isaac, and assume that even without the full force of a hurricane, you and the whole eastern seaboard must be deluged with water! My aunt lives in North Carolina and she usually reports power outages and storm-related conditions. Now all eyes are on New Orleans and hoping Isaac moves on out! We are fine here for now, and will be until there’s another event. In the meantime, your description of the “news” deliveries whip us into frenzies translates for our coast, too. The best are when we have “storm watch 2012″ or something like that. Our “storms” would make you laugh uproariously, but I think our on-air personalities are just so eager to have their Andeson Cooper in a hurricane moment that they, too, create a crisis out of absolutely nothing. I think the “cry wolf” concern is probably a valid concern! oxo

    • I don’t feel any of the shaking, so that’s a comfort. I’ve been told my whole life there’d be a devastating earthquake, so I’m not sure what that even means at this point. We’re good until there is one, I guess. LOL! So preparedness is the key to my peace of mind, I think! Lots of supplies! Thank you!

  8. Your take on this is as ever fascinating and enlightening Debra. Getting anxious about an event that you don’t know will happen does, as you say sound like a waste of energy, where you can’t see it coming. I remember being in a tropical storm/huricane warning in Florida when I was 17, but to be honest I wasn’t scared, none of the people around me were so I went with the flow. But I do remember the party the day after – you know the sort where everyone has to empty the contents of their freezers and fridges, a great cook up!! What did scare me were tornados – the ones I saw on TV ripping up through central Florida scared the pants off me – their power and force is simply ferocious. I’ve seen programmes where people “chaase” them – to learn and understand more about them, if I had a choice I’d choose a desk job!!

    • Aren’t those storm chasers just crazy, Claire? I can’t imagine, but some of them have provided really good scientific information that I suppose is put to good use. I don’t have that mysterious adventure gene! I like to create as much safety as I possibly can, and I think having supplies and a plan for the aftermath of a big event is probably the best I can do. I also really agree with you about tornadoes. I cannot imagine knowing one of those twisters was coming and how one prepares for that, I really don’t know. There are dangers everywhere and mother nature can really surprise us sometimes to where we are reminded we cannot prevent or plan against everything. I think where I’m going in my little “talk” about emergency supplies is that they say only a very small number of people in all of California even store water. That’s just crazy! For today, all is well, but all eyes are on New Orleans on this anniversary of Katrina! oxo

  9. It dos sound as though the west and south of the USA has a lot to contend with at the moment, Debra. Sending good wishes to you as you make your sensible preparations for what everyone hopes won’t happen. We get plenty of wind in Mid-Wales, sometimes very strong and even a few earth tremors from time to time, but nothing remotely like what you get across the pond. Stay safe.

    • I don’t think there’s anywhere without some concern about storms, earthquakes, flooding, fire…and on and on, do you, Perpetua? I think it’s mostly a matter of whether we have some supplies and a plan for the aftermath. I try to operate on a strong dose of wisdom and good common sense, and then after that, I don’t think of the worst happening. It’s all heightened right now simply because of these earthquake swarms. I like to think maybe the earth is letting off a little of its pressure and postponing a more significant event! Scientists say “no” to that theory, but they don’t know everything! LOL!

  10. I’ve felt one small earthquake in my lifetime and I remember thinking it was the strangest thing ever. I’m sure I could work myself into a tizzy about it too. I’ve been known to do that with tornadoes. My thoughts are with all those in the Gulf now too. Can’t imagine preparing for something like that. Have a good afternoon Debra!

    • I agree with you, Kristy! I am absolutely certain I could never prepare myself for a tornado. I would be in a perpetual state of alertedness and for that reason alone, I’ll take an earthquake–if there has to be something. We all need to be prepared for emergency supplies. Even a strong wind event could pose serious problems, as we experienced this past December. Just being without power for three days was highly enlightening and showed us how much we still needed to do! All is well with us, bu all eyes on New Orleans!

  11. I am a New York city girl who experienced a mild tremor many years ago in NY, and we all freaked out as it’s unusual for New York to experience quakes. Now I am in Oregon, and ::knocking on wood::::, we haven’t had earthquakes or hurricanes. I know I would be frightened by such an experience. I can deal with the challenges of city life but not when Mother Nature acts up. Hope all is well!

    • I don’t know that there is really any place we can be sure Mother Nature won’t have some strong lessons to teach! Some things seem more frightening because they are “known” to us, but really, I think a strong storm can do just as much havoc to a town by simply knocking out power for several days. Good emergency supplies help allay some of the fear. We are certainly fine for now, and just trying to be responsible and work ahead of any issues. We store water and then when it needs to be replaced we can be very slow to “get around to it.” Now all eyes are on New Orleans, aren’t they! THanks for sharing, Marie. New York does’t have as many tremors, but they have some big ones when they do!

  12. Australia is a land of extremes with droughts, bush-fires, storms, floods, even some minor earth-quakes. You seem to have your share of all this in the USA too.
    My family here in Australia was lucky so far and didn’t experience any major damage. But you’re right, it’s good to be prepared in case disaster strikes. You seem to be extremely well informed. and prepared, Stay safe, dear Debra, and sleep well at night! Cheers, Uta

    • You are so right, Uta, about the extremes of weather in Australia. I think the fires have really struck me in their power! Where would we go to avoid the power of nature? The lessons I’ve learned in our earthquakes have been more about holding onto “things” very lightly. I was still quite young when we had a bit of earthquake damage and a lot of my pretty things were destroyed. At that time I couldn’t have cared any less about property damage, I was simply concerned about my loved ones. So I do work at having supplies and taking charge of the few things I might be able to control! Blessings to you in your upcoming travels…safety for you, too! Debra

  13. Thanks, Debra. We’ve just been watching life the opening ceremonies for the Paralympic Games It’s early morning here and it looks like we’re going to have a bright sunny day. Got to do some more washing today to get ready for our departure next week. I really enjoyed the opening ceremonies. Our daughter would have loved to see it too. The ceremonies were truly a celebration of the human spirit. Best wishes, Uta.

    • It’s really too bad that there hasn’t been much attention over here to the Paralympic Games. If it weren’t for following some of the conversation through other bloggers I wouldn’t even know of them. I’m sure they are a source of real joy and celebration of life. It must be very bittersweet for you to watch the participants, and at the same time be honoring the remembrance of your daughter at her birthday. I do hope your travels will be most enjoyable, Uta! oxo

  14. We don’t have to worry about hurricanes but we do have to have candles, blankets and food in the emergency kit for when we are hit with extreme cold, blizzard and/or heavy snowfall creating impassable roads. The problem with extreme cold and heavy snow is that the power will go out causing the furnace not to work causing the pipes to freeze causing possible cracked pipes, causing flooding on the street and in the house, which then freezes outdoors causing ice and more treacherous roads. It can be quite a domino effect. Luckily, I can only think of a handful of times where we had situations that could cause some severe conditions but it never got that far.
    I think there are a lot of places in the world that have their extreme weather issues to be prepared for. I do hope Issac does not cause too much damage and everyone is safe.

    • The best example of how we need to be prepared with home supplies came this last winter. We had a very freak windstorm doing lots of damage. It was a once in a century dry hurricane…that’s what they called it. It was like a dry run for a larger event. We lost power for days, and had many odd inconveniences we’d never previously anticipated. So, I think it’s good to remember to be organized in this way! :-) Key word: organized! Not my strongest natural suit. But I’m working on it! Ha!

  15. I hadn’t heard about these earthquake swarms because I was on vacation in Canada. Good lord!
    I have a sort of emergency supply at hand but haven’t changed the water in a while. I think we have to replace those plastic water jugs at least once a year. Thanks for reminding me.

    • You really bring me back to a different consciousness when you mention your experiences with war, Elizabeth. It makes me so aware of how protected I have been, and I respect you for being such a positive and uplifting person. So many people would take your experiences and be bitter or at least complaining. I hope you have a wonderful week. You are really someone special.

I always enjoy hearing from you!

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