Friday, March 11, 2011

Memories of an Earthquake Past

The 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan this morning, causing a Tsunami throughout the Pacific, is one of the largest ever recorded.  The loss of life and devastation will be massive to Japan.  As an illustration of what goes on at ground zero, even without major damage and a tsunami, let me recount what happened several years ago when a 6.9 earthquake hit near Maui.  Daughter LEB was shaken awake on that Sunday morning in Honolulu, and we here in Canada called her cellphone (this being the pre-texting era) as soon as we became aware of the situation.  The ironic thing is that we knew more about what was going on in the streets 8 stories below her than she did.  All she could do was look out the window, afraid to step out onto the balcony (although her California roomies did so).  The power in Honolulu was out and the only TV station broadcasting was immediately co-opted by CNN.  With elevators, landlines, lights, etc. not working - and cellphone batteries fading - we were able to tell her that there wouldn't be a tsunami but the streets below weren't safe, the nearby grocery store was only allowing shoppers in a few at a time and only taking cash, etc.  In the end, her building sustained no damage (although it swayed roughly 5-10 feet during the quake) but the older ones across the street showed cracks and loose bricks, etc.  The point here is that we are very dependent on technology in a crisis, and sometimes people halfway around the globe know more about what is going on than the people at ground zero.  (Thanks for the texts from Maui this morning, KAT!)