When I was in the Coast Guard, toward the end of each tour of duty I would fill out a form listing where I would like to go next. These forms were universally referred to as Dream Sheets, and I’m pretty sure the other services have the same system. In 21 years, I got one of my listed choices about half the time, which I figure is a good average.
One time when I was thinking of what location to request, I began thinking about natural disasters. Well, this place had hurricanes and that one had tornados and this other was subject to flooding. It soon became clear that everywhere had something.
The most likely natural disaster in the Pacific Northwest is earthquake. We are in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, where the Pacific tectonic plate is slowly pushing several smaller plates under the North American plate. It is not a smooth process — the plates tend to lock together. There aren’t many small or medium earthquakes to relieve the pressure. It keeps building and building until SNAP! A massive earthquake.
There is evidence that these megathrust earthquakes have happened here in the past. If one were to happen now, there would be massive destruction. A tsunami would likely wipe out much of the beach towns. Here in Portland buildings would fall, most of the bridges would fall, and water and electricity and sewage systems would fail. Probably there would be no telephones, cell coverage, or internet. With the bridges out and some of the roads blocked by landslides, resupply would be difficult.
Our house, built to current earthquake standards, would likely survive, but the kitchen floor would be covered in broken glass and the windows might shatter or pop out, opening us to the weather. Certainly we would have no water or electricity, perhaps for as long as three months. Andrea and I have done a little to prepare for such an eventuality, but our preparations are incomplete.
Today we have electricity and water and sewage. The house is intact and we are protected from the cold rain. The grocery stores are being resupplied. The stores’ empty shelves are mostly a result only of panic buying and a few profiteers buying up all the necessities so they can resell them at inflated prices. Once all that settles down, supplies will be plentiful again.
We are doing well. Things could be a lot, lot worse.
Andrea continues to help people get set up on Zoom so we can communicate. We talk to our kids and to our brothers. She ordered some yarn and for the first time in years is crocheting again. I’ve ordered yarn, too, so that I can start weaving again. I haven’t done it for quite a while, distracted by the busyness of the day-to-day, but perhaps I’ll have the time to do it now. I find it meditative.
We watched the 1944 version of “Gaslight” last night. It’s a great movie, with Ingrid Bergman in an Academy Award-winning role. If you wonder what the term means, watch the movie.
I wish each of you safety and health. As my mother used to say: This too shall pass.