: views from the Hill

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Batten down the hatches

I dropped a note to the editor of what we affectionately call the Snooze, the weekly newspaper for our fair ville, this morning, suggesting he run an article on earthquake preparedness.

A 3.4 quake woke us up at 3:30 a.m. The quake was centered less than 2 miles ENE from here, along the Monta Vista fault. That quake was preceded by a couple microquakes, too small to feel, and followed by four more.

The USGS list of recent earthquakes shows that jolt I felt this morning.

This morning's jolt was a longer, more rolling quake than the 2.2 quake I felt about 5:30 Saturday morning. This quake made the house creak.

That quake felt like someone had dropped something heavy right next to my bed: a short, sharp jolt that made the windows rattle. I felt that quake, even though it was a small one, because it was less than 2 miles WNW from here, along the San Andreas fault.

We've also had about five quakes over 3.0 south of here in Hollister and Pinnacles since mid-August and a smaller one today. All-in-all I'm feeling like the leadup to Loma Prieta back in 1989.

Then too we had a good size rumble in August, good enough to knock a can of spray paint off a shelf in the garage. The child-proof cap came off and the freezer still has a swash of green paint on it.

Back then nothing much was made of the smallish quakes. No news. Then came Loma Prieta and folks realized my paint-toppling quake in August was a precursor quake for the Loma Prieta. Since then the Merc offers a weekly earthquake map and report of earthquake activity.

Deciding 'twas better to yield to my anxieties than wish I had paid attention after the fact, I'm battening down the hatches. Today I took some of the more valuable breakable Asian pots and plates and what-not off the living room shelves and put them on the floor away from the windows in a safer spot. Soon, maybe tomorrow, I'll wrap them in bubble wrap and take them up to San Francisco and use museum wax to glom them onto the shelves. Next up the other rooms and my office. The stuff was going to move anyway. Might as well move it now.

We're mostly set for whatever will come. We have water and food and other supplies. The water heater is strapped in. I carry shoes and basic supplies in all the cars, but you never really know if you're prepared until the house starts creaking, then shaking and you realize this isn't a measley 3.4 but something much bigger.

Soon, they say. Some time in the next few decades. When they can't say. Soon.

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