Monday, December 27, 2004

Earthquake and Tsunami

Of course, by now there's nobody that hasn't heard of the big earthquake near Indonesia and the following tsunamis that have hit several places along the coast of Asia, and islands in the Indian Ocean. I really never know what to say about such terrible disasters -- it's too big to deal with a disaster that wipes out thousands of people in the blink of an eye. When 9/11 happened it took half a day for the emotional impact to really hit me -- one of my online friends was shocked to find me posting to one of my groups like nothing was happening. But it's like my brain was stunned "O.k., this happened and it's big", but the actual meaning hadn't really penetrated yet.

I sometimes marvel, when I hear of these things, at just what a safe life I live. I'm in rural northern California, which is most unlikely to be hit by terrorists or any other sort of enemy. (Nearby Chico was once considered the most unlikely spot in the U.S. to be hit by nuclear weapons, and some folks are said to have actually moved there for that reason, back in the 60s.) I was told that the nearest possible terrorist target is Shasta Dam, and if a plane crashed into it, it might have a crack or two, but nothing more. (If the dam could be destroyed it would be a catastrophe of Biblical proportions, like the tidal wave this morning.) As for natural disasters, we get floods that we are well-prepared for, when they let water out of the dam -- and the water flows in a very predicatable course. Our house is build on a high foundation above the flood plain, so we can sit out a flood with minor inconvenience. We sometimes feel earthquakes centered elsewhere, which generally amounts to no more than some mild shaking. I understand that there's a fault here that runs horizontally across the county, but it's never caused a big quake -- a four-pointer once, up in the mountains, which I felt like a boat dipping in a wave. I can't imagine what it would be like to live where you have to cope with tornados or hurricanes or even below zero temperatures.

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