On this day in 1906, an estimated 7.9 earthquake hit San Francisco. Up to 3000 people were killed, however many were not killed in the initial earthquake but in the fires that erupted and burned for 3 days and nights. Over 250,000 of the 400,000 residents were left homeless. It was widely felt throughout the Bay Area and as far away as Nevada and Oregon. It was devastating and caused geographical changes in the landscape, and considered one of the greatest natural disasters in US history.
I live here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have many friends from around the world that are terrified of earthquakes and often cite the Great Earthquake of 06 as a reason to fear. Honestly, I am more fearful of a hurricane or a twister. I have been through many earthquakes form teeny tiny magnitudes 4.0 (usually do not feel the smaller ones) up to the 1989 magnitude 7.1 Loma Prieta earthquake. That one was a little scary. There is nothing like watching the windows ripple and wave like water in the wind. A good earthquake will get your adrenaline pumping. However, I am not scared of them. Why? Well I will tell you.
First, unlike, a tornado, a hurricane or even floods, there are no indicators of an earthquake a ‘coming. The scientists are working on it but nothing is accurate. There are no “right” conditions, no weather forecasts, no way of knowing. There are parts of fault lines, like Hayward fault, that have been forecast to slip and create “the Big One”, for years. But other than a decent shaker now and then, hasn’t happened. Even when I was younger, they predicted a Big One in 10 years (did not happen) 20 years (did not happen) or they change what they say constitutes a “Big One”.
Secondly, unlike the 1906 earthquake, where fire destroyed most of the city and took a lot of lives, we are more prepared to handle the aftermath. We are also more proactive. . Although many chaff at the building regulations, they have decreased building collapses and other structures. The Loma Prieta earthquake taught us even more about roadway and bridge construction. Our structures are not impervious, but safer. Our personal safety is also constantly being pounded into our heads. Most of us have an earthquake kit. A kit that has water, food and other basic safety gear and health gear. I can’t tell you how many of my friends have several kits and gallons of water throughout the inside and outside of the home. Several because you may not be able to access it if you have just one.
Now I am not saying that they don’t wake me up and give me a scare when we do have an earthquake. They do especially during the event, mostly because you just never know how long or how hard the ground is going to shake. It really could be the “Big One”. However, I do not walk around in fear of one happening. That would be just silly. I live in earthquake country, which by the way so do you! If you live on earth, there is always that possibility.