Search This Blog

Friday, March 11, 2011

Getting Ready For The Big One

I was going to post this evening about my progress on the garden so far, but the earthquake in Japan has really captured my attention, probably because I grew up  in California, which is pretty much earthquake central for the U.S.   Quakes are not isolated to California, not by any means.  There have been doozies in Alaska and even as far away from the Pacific Plate as Montana.  There have been quakes a lot further east as well, but I'm specifically interested in parts of the world connected to the Pacific Plate.  Why?

Because not too long ago, there were a couple of earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand.  Today's quake  in Japan was the most severe recorded in that country, and they are saying the worst in recorded history world-wide.  I'm not sure of that fact, but I do know this: Japan is also adjacent to the Pacific plate, and this quake is the worst that I know of in my lifetime, Richter scale-wise.  I went through the Loma Prieta in 1989, that registered 6.9 on the Richter; we didn't hear from my sister in San Francisco until three days after it hit, and it was her future mother-in-law in Hillsboro that relayed the message that she was okay down to us in the lower Bay Area.  That was a pretty tense three days.  I do remember the force of that quake as being the worst I'd ever experienced in my life, and it was really something else.  Imagine hanging on to a wall, with the floor underneath you (we were on a concrete slab) going up and down as if you were riding a wave (which, essentially, you are) and this incredible, deafening roar from the earth.  I wish I could really convey what a big earthquake is like; I can't imagine the terror that the folks in Christchurch experienced, nor what the people in Japan felt during today's quake and then when the subsequent tsunami hit.  My heart goes out to them, as I remember my own fear, and then anxiety until I heard that my sister was alright.

But back to the Plate.  I'm no seismologist, but the rapid occurrence of two major earthquakes on the west side of the Pacific Plate leads me to speculate that Russia is next, and then maybe Alaska.  And I think anyone living in the Pacific Northwest and California is probably well-advised to get ready for something.

Steve and I have pretty good stores set by, but we could use water, so tomorrow I'm going shopping for the following things:

drinking water (lots)
5 gallon buckets
toilet seat
a gallon of SD alcohol

The need for drinking water is obvious.  I know that it's something you're supposed to have on hand for emergencies, but I've never done anything about it.  It's high time I did.  One of the five gallon buckets and the toilet seat will be used for a composting toilet if it becomes necessary; I'm certainly not going to waste water flushing a conventional toilet.  I have carbon already set up for my compost pile; it would be a simple matter to rig up some privacy and put together a composting toilet.  In any case, an outdoor latrine is also possible, but I'd rather have a comfy seat.  Lord knows, if the Big One hit, I'd have enough trouble doing my thing, as it were.  A comfy place to sit would go a long way in that regard.

I have an outdoor stove that we purchased last summer, and lots of propane left in the tank, but the SD (special denatured, for those needing translation) alcohol is for burning in a tuna can-type home made camp stove, if necessary.  I put one together to have on hand back when I lived in hurricane country; I can rig something up again if necessary again.  I just want to have the fuel on hand if I need it.

I might also buy:

quick oats
peanut butter

Just because I'm low on those, and they're easy.

It's very possible that nothing will happen.  But the way that plate tectonics work, is that the plates release energy a little bit at a time, usually along the fault.  I think you really grow up with this knowledge living in California; the San Andreas fault line runs through the better part of the state before heading out to sea a little south of Eureka, with everything east of the fault heading south, and everything west of the fault heading north; if something big hits the L.A. area, chances are that a little while later (days, weeks, months) something will happen in the Bay Area.  It just makes sense to read the signs on the west side of the Pacific Plate and get ready for whatever might come along the line, as it were.

And if nothing happens?

I'll be that much closer to getting goal number twenty taken care of.


Ruth @ Hope, Joy and Faith Farm said...

I live on the Oregon coast (Gold Beach), we've been hearing sirens off and on all day. I'm pretty much set up too, but have a few more things to get together. Unfortunately cash is not available right now as we just bought our pigs and food for them. I heard that this morning there were a lot of people in the one store that is open 24 hours buying either: beer, wine and smokes, or food and batteries. Maybe people will wake up a bit more now.

Paula said...

Ah yes, the essentials: beer and smokes. Actually, talk of beer makes me think Steve probably ought to pack his home brew with rags to keep them from rattling together!

Good luck, Ruth; I sure hope you don't need it.

Miriam said...

I've been reading Independence Days, by Sharon Astyk (it's a guide to sustainable food storage) the last couple of days, and thinking hard about what I'm reading. The author isn't a gun-toting survivalist, but for a whole variety of reasons thinks we should all have at least 3 months, and preferably a year, of food stored. So I've been thinking of the (inadequate) food we do have stored, and our (slapdash) earthquake kit anyway, and then today - the earthquake in Japan. It's shaking me up, in lots of ways.

One of the worst moments of my day: tonight on our national TV news coverage an economist was quoted as saying the quake could be a good thing for Japan because all the rebuilding that will have to happen will provide a stimulus to the sagging Japanese economy. What kind of world do we live in?

Paula said...

Actually, I fear for the kind of world we live in. Somebody, somewhere in Japan has to pay the insurance bill that will pay for this rebuilding. It's also very possible that Japan will be like New Orleans and Haiti and it will be years before it's back to normal. I don't know if this planet is coming apart at the seams, but between the geological and climatological stuff, and the geopolitical and economical stuff, times are getting harder all the time.

I probably sound more pessimistic than I am; I just see signs all around that are telling me to get ready. I don't know what I'm getting ready for; I just feel an urgent need to get ready. I sincerely hope that I'm way wrong. I just want to be prepared if I'm right. But I hope I'm wrong.

chesapeake said...

I can't tell you what a relief it is to hear someone else openly say that they have an ominous feeling regarding the future. I was crying to my husband last week that I felt crazy. There's this little feeling of urgency to get ready for something big. I don't know what that something is, but it's all I can do to not head for the country and build a little off-grid house immediately. There's change in the air, isn't there? It's growing. I don't watch/read the news (except for the occasional report on Japan this past week), so I know I'm not buying into fear-mongering from the media.

There's just...something. An intangible, ever-mounting something. I'm only 22, so I feel extra crazy and weird over my concerns for long-term food storage, emergency preparedness, self-sufficient living, etc etc etc.

Found you through Jenna's blog. Your comments and positivity always make me smile, and I'm happy to see you update your blog regularly!

Paula said...

Well, I think that we are not alone in our fears, chesapeake. I think that wanting to be ready is operating on at least the subconscious level for a lot of people who are homesteading.