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Will you be ready when the quake comes?

We’re going to risk being a bit redundant to Wednesday’s editorial, when we reminded readers to be ready for winter power outages. While the horror stories out of Haiti are still at the top of the news, let us pass on what happened just two weeks ago to our neighbors in Humboldt County.

The event was measured as a 6.5 quake centered off Cape Mendocino, 21 miles from Ferndale and 23 miles from Eureka. The scientists say the two sides of an unnamed fault moved as much as 8 feet.  People reported feeling the quake from Eugene to south of San Jose. There was no tsunami, but there were 39 aftershocks over the next four days.

No one was killed, but 30 people went to the hospital for minor injuries and there was one major injury, a broken hip. In Eureka, reports of property damage were filed on 219 buildings, with a total loss of more than $20 million — including $6 million at Bayshore Mall.

In a telling section of the report, scientists reviewed videos of how people reacted. Instead of following the recommendation to “drop, cover and hold on,” most walked or ran outdoors. People did get out of the tsunami zone, but they went by car instead of on foot, causing some traffic jams.

Based on the geologic record, scientists predict this was just a preview of what we face along the West Coast sometime between today and the next 200 years or so. In the worst-case scenarios, we would suffer immense personal and property damage and – chiefly because bridges would all collapse – we would be isolated from any immediate help.

So please stop and consider what you have in place to care for yourself in the hours and days after the ground stops shaking. Evacuation plan? First aid supplies? Water? Food? Shelter? Prescriptions?

Haiti and Humboldt are warning signs to be prepared.


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