On Earthquakes And Hurricanes

Today's Daily Progress

On Tuesday, I was in the cellar getting ready to fold freshly dried laundry.  At the instant I opened the dryer door, there was a huge rumbling sound, like a freight train about to crash through the house.  It felt like the walls around me were expanding and contracting. I charged up the stairs, realizing the house was shaking.  It was not the dryer door that had caused this havoc, it was a magnitude 5.8 earthquake, with it’s epicenter just 40 miles up the road.  We’ve since had 3 or 4 after shocks. Nothing terribly big, but enough to leave my dogs, Sam and Molly, on the clingy side, not letting us out of their sight.

There has been little to no damage here in Charlottesville, save for a fractured gas line that was repaired quickly.  In Mineral, where the quake was centered, several homes were destroyed and in Louisa, the elementary school built in the 50’s is probably going to be condemned.  Friend’s of mine, who are living in a new house in Louisa, have cracks in their basement floor. The nearby nuclear power plant at Lake Anna, was shut down automatically as the quake began, but only 3 of its back up power sources came on-line. That is being investigated.

Officials in Culpepper, just north of us, are razing an historically important building today because it is too dangerous to leave standing.  In Washington, DC, our magnificent National Cathedral was damaged and there is no word on whether or not it can be restored.

Nobody in the area expected this to happen.  No one has insurance that will cover damage from earthquakes.  It’s a separate add-on to a regular homeowner’s policy, that no one buys because we rarely have earthquakes here.   There have been only 25 quakes in Virginia since it became a state, according to what I heard on CNN.

Sometime tomorrow, Hurricane Irene will sweep up the East Coast after making landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Virginia has already been declared in a State of Emergency.  At this time, New York City, is on the direct path the storm is likely to take.  Can you imagine being in a highrise on the 20th floor in surface winds of 85 miles-per-hour?  Can you envision what the City will be like when the subway systems and streets are flooded with the copious amounts of rain that could fall?  If you live on Long Island there are only a few ways off and around the City. Then where do you go?  Inland flooding is expected to be as dangerous or worse than what is being predicted on the coast.

In this country alone, it has been a summer of huge, natural disasters.  From tornadoes, flooding, drought, and searing heat, to earthquakes and hurricanes, it is a year to remember and contemplate.  What will the coming years be like?  Are we prepared for these catastrophic events?  Can Mayor Bloomberg do enough to keep his city safe?  What can any of us do?

Here in Central Virginia, we should experience winds up to around 30 mph tomorrow, along with about an inch of rain.  Unless Irene takes a more westerly route, we have little to worry about.  Sunday promises to be like any other day in paradise, while huge suffering will be taking place north of us into New England.

I wrote the following poem in 1989, as a way of dealing with my frustration over what we have been doing to our beautiful, blue planet and why we may be experiencing some the things that have been happening.

This dog

We are fleas upon this dog                                                                                                                 hopping about  sucking                                                                                                                     searching for a vein                                                                                                                             persisting in synthetic dreams                                                                                                           vinyl blue pools  golf course green grass                                                                                         rejuvenated monthly with fertilizers                                                                                               insecticides   fungicides

We sculpt the land                                                                                                                               cut trees for paradise                                                                                                                         strip malls  hurry up highways                                                                                                         lace the air with unseen gases                                                                                                           deadly vapors so thick                                                                                                                         we cannot see the views                                                                                                                     we cut the trees for

We pump heavy metals                                                                                                                       surgical leftovers into the sea                                                                                                           sit in the sun risking                                                                                                                           cancerous complexions                                                                                                                       on oil slicked beaches                                                                                                                         where dolphins lie dead

And this dog keeps spinning                                                                                                             chasing her tail                                                                                                                                     trying to scratch   chew                                                                                                                       nibble and shake the pain away


I know I sound gloomy and pessimistic, but what we are seeing is happening.   Each one of us must try to find ways of stopping the pollution, of understanding and attempting to reduce carbon emissions, bringing global climate change within reach of being lessened.  Some say we are beyond the tipping point, but I don’t find that to be a viable excuse to keep us from trying to leave a better world for our grandchildren.

Where ever you are this weekend, please be prepared and stay safe.

This entry was posted in Life, Poetry, wonderings. Bookmark the permalink.

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