not my usual disaster

August 26, 2011

It’s shaping up to be a fun week here on the east coast, between earthquakes and hurricanes and millions of people whining about earthquakes and hurricanes.  And mostly, the rest of the country (especially those used to dealing with one or the other natural disaster) just laughs.  I’m guilty myself of mocking New York for freaking the hell out about a hurricane.

But then I thought about it, and maybe New York has a point.  A storm that’s old hat here — ‘oh, a few days without power?  quit your whining, at least you don’t have an electric well pump going out’ — could be incredibly dangerous in a place where supplies are already shipped in from so far away, and nearly all roads in and out are low-lying.  I mean, mostly it looks like it won’t be as big a deal now that my state is taking some of the punch out of Hurricane Irene, but a real live hurricane in a densely populated coastal city is still a real reason to worry.

Hope it’s not so bad, New Yorkers — I may not have much sympathy, having involuntarily weathered a week plus without running water or electricity fifteen years ago trapped in by half the pines in the forest, and being slightly in the path of this one myself — but I do understand.

Incidentally, everyone laughing about the earthquake might ought to reconsider.  I had lunch today with a few folks from a community less than five miles from the earthquake’s epicenter (near Louisa and Mineral, Virginia).  They’re coping with tons of damage.  Most masonry-built structures are seriously damaged, and one building will probably have to be torn down entirely.  Several floors buckled, and lots of plumbing is damaged.  Everything that was on a shelf is now on the floor, and broken.  Insurance, of course, is useless, because it doesn’t cover earthquakes.

So maybe you should think about it before you laugh too hard at our little earthquake, west coast.  It may have just rattled the windows at my house, and shaken up a boring day in New York, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a real disaster for someone.

And I’d better get this posted before our power goes out.  It’s already flickered once.  Be safe, everyone.



One comment

  1. I read an article today, though not from a reliable source, that said that a 5.8 magnitude quake on the east coast actually leads to more intense shaking than the same magnitude quake on the west coast because of differences in bedrock composition. Is that even possible?

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