Two Quakes on ‘Earthquake Preparedness Day’

Was it a joke? Two quakes in a day in Oakland/Berkeley today along the Hayward Fault.

Was it a joke?

I was driving about an hour north at 2pm today, and so missed the first 4.0 quake from the Berkeley epicenter.  But tonight’s 3.8 was a short, hard hitting rattler.  Twenty years past San Francisco’s Loma Prieta quake, the State wants us ready for the big one. So they’ve launched this campaign, an Earthquake awareness day,  to get us thinking seriously-for a day at least- about an emergency plan. Water supply. The location of the gas valve.  Candles & batteries. The first person we want to contact.  What happens when the cell towers are out & my cell phone doesn’t work (the phone most have these days).  Where the emergency kit is.  The inevitable.

The inevitable.   Yes Rumi, “Live where you fear to live” is vaguely happening, but we really shouldn’t “forget safety. ”  We live along the Hayward Fault, a thick, line running 60 miles down the East Bay (East of SF).

The Hayward Fault, lovingly dubbed the “tectonic time bomb”  released it’s last wrath of fury in 1868 in an approximate 7.0 quake, leveling nearby 2 cities.  San Francisco’s San Andreas is parallel ours, as the map shows.  Our soils and rock substrates move energy along the Hayward fault differently than energy that transfers along San Francisco’s San Andreas fault.  Our action is notoriously vertical. “More direct” USGS says.  Quakes and tremblers both in this area feel sudden, make you jump and lose your balance.  You can actually watch tall buildings downtown jump first and then sway.  I experienced this from inside one of the 25 story buildings downtown a few years back. I don’t mind never experiencing that again.  None of this matters- as long as they stay small.

So a short vertical slam is what tonight felt like.  I used to think it was all funny when they happened (they used to make me giggle hysterically;).  But now, we are looking for a house and it doesn’t feel so funny.  With owners, I don’t ask about the roof first. Or the plumbing/electrical. It’s the foundation that matters.  75+ years of tremblers adds up. Cracks and vulnerabilities are rampant in these wonderful old homes.  Few have bolted the house to the foundation. Or replaced the old concrete. Or stabilized corners & walls with shearing/bracing.  The city gives some grant $ to encourage us to retro-fit.  But I imagine that kind of work is on most people’s ‘rainy day’ TODo list.

“Although U.S. Geological Survey experts have officially determined from the location and depth that the second quake was the aftershock of the first one, geophysicist Rafael Abreu warned people not to get too complacent.

“When you have an area with such an active seismicity, it’s hard to tell if you’re really seeing if there’s an aftershock or if it’s just a regular earthquake,” he said. “You should be prepared for more earthquakes to happen, whether they’re aftershocks or not.”  SF Gate.

Seismicity in the Bay Area. I wouldn’t trade living here for anything.  I do want a good foundation, and  hopefully, a house bolted to something.  It all reminds me how lacking our emergency plan is, how lax we’ve gotten. Tomorrow, I will stock the pantry with more food & water.  Find that crank radio and buy those D batteries for flashlights.

Author: tara linda

musician, poet, art and jewelry-maker

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