Natural Disasters

I’m taking a Geology class titled, “Natural Disasters.” As you might imagine, I’m learning about all kinds of different problems that plague our world – storms, floods, volcanoes, and earthquakes. For the earthquake unit I read an article about “The Big One.” I live in the Pacific Northwest, which is the tail end of the San Andreas fault. There are also other, smaller plates around here – the Juan de Fuca, for example. I’ve known that Washington has earthquakes. I’ve even been in a couple of smaller ones. This document, however, changed how I looked at the world.

Statisticians are placing “The Big One” as overdue, which means that any minute now, there could be a shakeup. And when they say, “The Big One,” they are estimating the earthquake starting at 9.5 and climbing from there. I could be driving, or sleeping, or at school while my son is at his school, our family separated. How would we find each other? It’s a problem I’d never given any thought to.

And it’s not like I can just move. We’re stuck.

That being said – I have lived here for over twenty years now. I’ve been through earthquakes . I was scared, but I was more scared of what could happen. This anxiety put me through some pretty knots, but at the end of it all, I was just fine.

Not to mention that there is nowhere in the US that doesn’t have some kind of pitfall or major destructive problem. The coasts have hurricanes, the middle hosts tornadoes, and then there’s flooding or even wildlife hazards such as alligators in Florida. They are easy to dismiss but they eat what they can catch, and children are a fun-sized snack to an alligator.

There’s the Zika virus to watch out for, now, and that’s just brought on by innocuous mosquitoes. You can’t tell if a mosquito is a carrier or not just by looking at it.

What can we do? I’m making an earthquake plan with my husband tonight, and I’m putting together an emergency kit in case we need it. We’re going to tell my son the pertinent parts of the plan when we have it together.

Preparation is the only defense we have against this threat to our home. It’s the only thing that will help me sleep better at night, knowing there is a threat that could, at any time, shake our house to its foundations and put our lives in jeopardy. That and knowing that our neighbors will be similarly affected and know that we’ll help them when the time comes, because that is what community is for.

Other than that, I have to let go of the fear. Statisticians don’t know everything. They can use algorithms to predict the outcome of an event, but averages aren’t real numbers. The best they can do is ball-park it, and if they can’t guess when it’s going to happen, how can I?

I must learn to live with this fear, because I can’t change a lot about the truth. I can only keep living out my day-to-day, chasing my dream and doing my best to make sure my family is taken care of.  If I choose to let the fear stop me from living, then I am not going to be any help to anyone.

And there are still so many other things to do.