Earthquake Potential Where I Live

Brief thoughts on earthquake potential and preparation here.

In the past month thee have been major quakes in New Zealand and Japan. My neighbour’s nephew-in-law was standing in front of a building in Christchurch when it collapsed. He and his family are fine. That must have been very scary. Christchurch is so much like Victoria that it is unsettling to look at photos and video of the quake and aftermath. Now a major one has happened in Japan, and the risk of nuclear meltdown has compounded the disaster.

Recently I added the United States Geologic survey to my BlackBerry Torch news feeds, and going over the past month there has been major quake activity from New Zealand up, north of Australia, Philippines, and Japan and so many pre-and after-shocks. On this side of the ocean, Chile, Easter Island, and California. It has been very quiet from Oregon up the coast through Alaska.

The quakes in Japan have happened along the North American tectonic plate, which is the same one we are on. It has been quiet here, geologically, for at least tow reasons:

  1. The stress is being relived by these quakes elsewhere, so we will continue to have some quiet time for a while.
  2. Stress is building around that plate, so we could have one soon.

Let us prepare for option #2, and maybe we have a month or two, given the timing between these major quakes. Last week I shopped for supplies for our office. This weekend I assessed what we have at home, and what we need. We are fine for supplies, and just need to organize where they are, and ensure everyone knows where they are in case I am not home.

For food, as we keep a stocked fridge and freezer and cupboards, we will get some more canned goods and store those securely, along with our emergency water. Each year, during Emergency Preparedness Week which happens in early May, we will rotate through the food and water, so what we have stays relatively fresh.

As to where we meet, ideally that would be at home. Considering our activities there is a good chance someone will be out of the house. The combinations are huge as to who will be where, as college is on the other end of the city, my office is half way there. It takes 2.5 hours to walk from my office home, having done it once with a busted bike. To do it after a quake, I am assuming 5 hours, since there will likely be debris and I will need to go around obstacles like road or structural collapse, even taking the Goose home most of the way. Where the family members are may affect my route.

Weather will play a big factor, and daylight. If I am in my office and the quake happens later in the day, if it is close to getting dark, I will need to wait for morning. If it is during one of our rare snow storms, I will stay overnight. If it is during a heavy rain, I will need to prepare, making a rain suit out of garbage bags, perhaps.

Communications could be an issue. Sometimes texting works best, as in New Zealand. Sometimes the cell network shuts down but Skype works, as in Japan. If we can communicate then I can find out where everyone is and we can work out reunification. If we cannot communicate locally, I have a relative in Quebec. All of us will call her to state where we are, how we are doing, and what we are doing. When each of us phone, she will be able to update us as to the whereabouts of others. Family on the lower mainland will be doing the same.

If I can get on the ‘net with my cellphone, I will try to blog and tweet and keep a record.

All we can do is lay out plans and hope for the best.

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