It is easy to roll with an earthquake
Give me an earthquake any day. It is definitely my natural disaster of choice.
I do not want to live where there are hurricanes, tornadoes, monsoons or typhoons. I am doing just fine living in the state that shakes, rattles and rolls. Do not get me wrong — I do not like earthquakes. But every place has something and the something we have is fine by me.
I was supposed to get together with friends for a weekend of wine tasting. They canceled because of Hurricane Lili. She was bearing down on their New Orleans homes. Not even all of the wine in the Wine Country could have made them forget what was happening back home.
It is seemingly an annual ritual they go through. Four years ago my friend Pam had the roof blown off her home when Hurricane Georges stormed through the Gulf region. She was luckier than some — more than 600 people died and damages reached nearly $6 billion.
I was just a kid when Hurricane Agnes struck the Eastern Seaboard in the summer of 1972. That one is still listed as the worst natural disaster in Pennsylvania’s history.
My family was living in Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C., when the rains and winds whirled up the coast. I remember my parents telling my sisters and me to stay away from the creek that was near our house. We did not listen. My three older sisters encouraged me to get on my hands and knees to cross the swollen creek on a log that stretched from one bank to the other.
Flooding cut off our water supply so we were collecting it in barrels. Toilets were not flushed after every use. It rained so hard water was coming through the concrete blocks of our basement.
I also survived a tornado when I was in Virginia. Mom took me and two of my sisters to the basement while my dad and oldest sister were running errands. We kids kept wanting to go outside to check out the cool sky. Mom saw nothing cool about it. There were no cell phones in those days for dad to call to say they were fine.
Those two got back safe, though the store they had been at had its roof torn off shortly after they had left.
The last tornado I experienced was in May 2000 when I was visiting friends in Mississippi. Penny and I were oblivious that a storm was rolling in. As we watched TV in front of the plate glass window, an emergency warning came across the screen alerting us to the fact that we were under a tornado watch. We scooped up her newborn Hannah and took a look outside. Yep, it looked pretty nasty. “Shouldn’t we do something?” I asked her. “No, we’ll be fine,” Penny said. We were. But I still would have been more comfortable hiding in the closet.
You cannot hide from an earthquake. What I find comforting is that you do not know it is coming. You cannot get all stressed about it. You do not have to pack up your belongings, board up the house and move to higher and dryer ground.
We are 10 days away from the 13th anniversary of the Loma Prieta quake. I was in South Lake Tahoe when that one struck. I was sipping a beer with my date at Marie Callender’s when coverage of the World Series between the Giants and A’s was interrupted. I did not feel that quake, though others up here did.
I was sure my dad was caught in the Cypress Structure because he was working in Oakland then. I rushed to the paper, leaving whoever the guy was with my lipstick stained glass as a reminder I had been there. All phone lines were down. It was not until late that night that my dad reached me from Los Angeles where he was on business. He told me mom was just fine in Concord, nothing even fell off the shelves.
In the Bay Area in my room at my parents I would hear the temblor as my window rattled, then feel my bed shake before it swept through the house and shook my parents windows.
It is not that these are fond memories, but they are better memories than my other experiences with natural disasters.
— Kathryn Reed is managing editor of the Tahoe Tribune. She may be reached at (530) 541-3880, ext. 251 or e-mail email@example.com
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