Tuesday, August 23, 2011

East Coast Earthquake

When I read this afternoon that Colorado had a 5.3 magnitude earthquake last night at 11:46pm (Mountain Daylight Time), I checked out the U.S. Geological Survey website. Having experienced three earthquakes since I moved to Southern California in 2001, the USGS website is on my "favorites" list. While looking at the USA Geological Map, I saw that Virginia had just experienced a 5.9 (later changed to 5.8) at 1:51pm (Eastern Daylight Time). I had no idea the extent to which it was felt throughout the East Coast until I received a phone call from my daughter in New York City advising me that she was unable to reach her husband or her mother-in-law who cares for my daughter's 10 months old baby. My daughter was concerned that she couldn't reach them and asked me to try. She experienced September 11, 2001, so this earthquake only heightened her awareness. I remember that on September 11, 2001, when I worked in New York City, we could not phone anyone, yet people outside of New York could call in. So today, I phoned both my daughter's home, where I got the answering machine, and her mother-in-law's cell phone. The cell phone didn't even connect, meaning I heard no ring...nothing but silence. Then, I tried my daughter's cell phone. That didn't connect either. Later I learned that cell phone activity immediately following the earthquake, figuratively, just flooded the system. I e-mailed my daughter about the dead cell phones and she responded that she had heard from her mother-in-law, who was evacuated with my granddaughter, and had now returned to the apartment. On August 7, 2011, I wrote about the importance of the Internet to the general public. If you haven't read it, I invite you do so. Today's occurrence is just another instance of our need to have unfettered access.

I do not take earthquakes lightly. I recently met friends for dinner where we asked one of our members about his elderly in-laws who live in Japan. He spoke about the multiple earthquakes that Japan is still experiencing. At this point the discussion veered to weather around the United States. My friends reiterated how they could not live in areas with tornadoes and hurricanes, yet everyday they risk possible earthquakes here in San Diego. Having had an earthquake literally lift me off the floor four years ago at 8:00am on Labor Day morning, I respect them. I was brushing my teeth and the next thing I knew, I had to hold on to the sink with my elbow in an effort to avoid falling to the floor. Yet I, too, choose the same risk as my California friends, to live in practically perpetual sunshine rather than ice and snow.

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