Saturday, October 17, 2009

Nature Always Bats Last


In this article from the Santa Cruz (Scotts Valley/San Jose) Sentinel, Sandy Lydon relates the natural history of the Loma Prieta earthquake that shook the earth round these parts twenty years ago today.

On October 16, 1989, I was in recovery mode on the shores of Prince William Sound some 4,000 miles north of Loam Prieta. I remember hearing about it on the radio, and seeing a picture of Candlestick Park in the Anchorage Daily News.

One must realize that news of earthquakes is a very different thing in Alaska than elsewhere. The 1964 quake established a threshold against which all others are measured. And, in Alaska, earthquakes are almost literally an everyday affair. I can't remember how many times I stood in a doorway wondering when to make a break for outside, as the house shifted back and forth around me.

Now that I live here within sight of the epicenter of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and having felt a couple of notable temblors myself, the effect of earthquakes in densely populated areas has a sobering reality. I know we'll be safe here, as this house survived the 1989 quake with almost no damage, and has been retrofitted since then. With all of the retelling of twenty year-old ground-shaking tales, I know that others will be less fortunate or prepared when the next one rolls around.

There is nothing that underscores human subservience to Nature more than that moment when the ground moves under your feet and you know there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.

As they discovered in Candlestick Park twenty years ago, Nature really does bat last!

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