Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Big One...

Uh, what day is this? Is April over yet? Oh, course not… There’s just so much hoopla working up to the centennial of the Big One that I feel like I’ve already been there, done that. Well, here’s hoping, indeed, we all get through it without a re-enactment of. My Lord...

Though I subscribe to San Francisco Magazine, sometimes it simply doesn’t reach my mailbox, hence I missed James’ article last year about the horrors of a ‘quake the scale of 1906 hitting us today… not that I didn’t have the facts from when I helped him write the novel, but, fact is, I’m as guilty as the next person of complacency.

Yeah, yeah, yeah… I ‘used’ to have an earthquake kit. I still keep a few cans of food in my cupboard. I do still have a portable radio. Batteries? They’re around somewhere. Or, maybe not. Water in gallon containers… a few to be safe? Uh. Nope. Got the bottles, just haven’t made it down my three flights, out the front door to my super next door where I can refill for 35 cents a gallon. Kitty food? I'm sure there'll be lots of mice running around the ruins.

What I learned today from Harris Bostic, Director of the Bay Area Chapter of the Red Cross, is that the number one thing we should all have is an agreed-upon meeting place with our family and friends. As I told him, when I was first an ex-pat here with my geophysicist other half, we had a place we agreed to meet should the necessity arrive. But, since I’m other-half-less, haven’t thought about it…

In 1989, I was sitting in the St. Francis Hotel, having just finished a meeting with my macho architect colleague, a cool beer about to touch my lips, the ball game about to start, when the table began to shake. “No matter,” I thought, “a second from now it’ll all be over.” It wasn’t. As all the tourists rushed outdoors (silly people) he and I shared a look and I still maintain that he was under the table before I was. Back in our seats, it wasn’t until the TV went black that we realized, “uh, oh.”

The seriousness of the situation still didn’t hit us, even when we discovered block after city block without electricity. And so, on we went to what was supposed to be my friend Jim Heron’s big art debut at Limn Gallery. Got there to discover that the reception was cancelled. As we made our way gingerly through non-functioning traffic lights, it was then we saw the flames on the other side of the hill in the Marina i.e. the direction in which he and I both lived. When I made my way home to not-quite-the-Marina, but Cow Hollow, I discovered my apartment in tact. But from my third-floor view I could only stare in horror at the flames in the distance.

Let me tell you folks, 1989 was nothing to what we’re facing compared to a temblor the scale of 1906. So, read James’ article on San Francisco Magazine’s Web site, then do yourself a favor and pop over to the American Red Cross and get prepared.

This is not an if. It’s a when.

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