There was an earthquake today. 6.4. The house sort of rumbled and shimmied briefly. Thank goodness the 6.4 was well out in the ocean. Close in and it would have done significant damage.
We keep being told get ready for the big one. The only person I know who is ready for the big one is my daughter. She’s an accountant. She organizes things. Prepares. Most people, like me, think about preparing but then don’t do it.
When I was the Chair of a department at the university, I had to go to earthquake preparedness courses. They showed us what happened in California. Then said if you don’t prepare your departments for an earthquake and it happens, you’ll get no funds to replace anything destroyed. That meant fixing computers in place so they wouldn’t jiggle off desks.
But the real problem was books. A lot of professor’s offices had books, big heavy ones along three walls. Imagine being hit by a falling OED. Or an entire bookcase. The solution was to fix the bookcases to the walls and put in railings along the book shelves.
The bigger problem was how do you provide toilet facilities, water, and food for eighteen thousand students? There was a plan to cook on outdoor BBQs. Propane rules. I assume there were backup generators to keep all the fridges and freezers working. I never heard the solution for toilets for eighteen thousand people.
Those emergency preparedness courses just about made me get ready for the Big One. There are plenty of reminders that we’re on a fault line. Sometimes I wake up at night and the furniture is shimmering and shaking. When I first came to BC, I would sit up in bed, ready to race outdoors. I even wore pajamas for awhile just in case an earthquake hit while I was in bed. Then I figured what the hell, if there’s a humdinger of an earthquake people will have more to worry about than me running around naked.
The scariest information that came out of these courses was that there’s only one water line into the city. It’s old and made of concrete. Any serious earthquake will break it. We were told to drink the water from the toilet tanks (don’t put those blue things in the tank) and from the hot water heaters. We can’t expect any help for at least seven days. Seven days without washing and nobody will want to help us.
We’re supposed to have bandages, pain killers, a propane stove, a generator, a store of canned and dried food. There’ll be no electricity. The generator is to keep the fridge and freezer working so all the food in them doesn’t rot. However, that means we need to store fuel for the generator. Enough to last a minimum of seven days. It could be longer since the ferry terminals may be unusable and the tsunami may have swept the ferries all the way to Hope.
With the closest staging area being Edmonton and the lack of military helicopters, many of which break down on a regular basis, I think Victoria would turn into a set for Lord of the Flies. The disaster in New Orleans would look like a holiday camp.
Maybe I’d better do it tomorrow. Buy water to store, canned juice, canned food, a propane BBQ, an emergency kit, dried food, matches. A shovel to use to dig a hole in the garden to use as a latrine. There’s probably a list on line. But then, the Big One might not come for a hundred years.