Friday, March 11, 2011

Thoughts on the Japan Earthquake

Every time there is a sizable earthquake anywhere in the world, my heart stops for a second when I hear of it. The risk of it happening here seems to grow ever stronger with each quake elsewhere.

I'm sure that if I was ever caught in a flood, or a hurricane, or a tornado, I would panic. Those are dangers that I have no concept of, not really anyway. I have never been anywhere where that was a risk. Earthquakes are second nature to me, or at least I like to think so, but I think they are definitely one of the scarier disasters due to the sheer lack of control and warning there is.

There is a small part of me that has a sick tendency to be proud of the amount and strength of our Alaskan earthquakes. So what? A natural disaster is not something to be proud of!

I have pondered the best time for a huge earthquake here. The wintertime would be awful. Cold weather when heating systems and electricity may not work, as well the potential for people trapped under rubble is not a good combination. But in the summertime, there is such a huge influx of visitors to the state that that would be horrible as well. There is no ideal time for a disaster.

Last night, I wanted to go out and shoot the aurora from the beach. As soon as I saw news of the quake, it took precedence. I spent the next 4 hours pouring over charts, Twitter, and reading the same news pieces over and over again. I dug out my radio to listen for updates. The tsunami warning system went off at midnight. Even though a potential tsunami had hours before it reached my town, I still was not willing to risk it. I went to bed with a heavy heart for those hurting, concerned about friends and acquaintances in Japan, Hawaii, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

I slept poorly, waking up, subconsciously afraid of my house flooding, and woke up in the morning chiding myself for my worrying. The danger passed us by, as it usually does.

It was hard not to despair last night, thinking of how easily the entire planet can be shaken by these plates. But it is out of my control (of course!) and I have to give my fear over to God, otherwise I will be paralyzed by it. That's the only way to live.

I went to the beach this afternoon, at a friend's insistence. I was not eager to go, but the waves were calm and the tide was out. It's pointless to live paralyzed by "what ifs" when they may never materialize. I feel confident that we have enough food stored in the house that we could survive if we needed. But according to this emergency list, I am lacking a few things. This could lead into a discussion on politics, the collapse of the US dollar and/or economic system and other disaster preparedness, but I think I will try to prepare for what I can, and leave the rest up to tomorrow.