Sunday, September 04, 2011

One year ago today

It amazes me that it's a year. And I know I've said thatloads of time but it just does. Sometimes it feels like this is all new. Othertimes I struggle to remember what life is like without earthquakes. Was allthat just a dream? And so this moment seems like a special moment. It's thelast few moments before our lives changed. And so it seems a good moment tothink about what exactly has changed and I think the best way to list thatwould be in the things I've learnt this year.

In no particular order, I have learnt:

- That earthquakes sometimes have a sound, a low rumble, ora loud roar
- Sometimes earthquakes don’t have a rumble; sometimes theyjust hit your house (and make you have to go change your knickers!)
- That the sound earthquakes have can sound just like manyother sounds we never noticed, like trucks, wind, trains, sliding doors, catdoors name it, I can mistake it for an earthquake
- The word liquefaction and what it means
- What the Mercallli scale is
- That telling me the Richter scale measurement of anearthquake is not enough; I need to know depth and proximity to civilisationbefore I make a judgement.
- The pure panic you can feel when you realise you don’thave your cellphone with you
- The generosity that humans have the capacity for in timesof disaster
- The complete lack of empathy and sympathy andunderstanding that disasters can highlight in some people!
- That the feeling of the moments sometimes simply can’t beexplained: trying to find my niece and nephew after Feb 22ndearthquake is one but also the moment at the memorial service when the usar andother volunteers arrived and everyone spontaneously stood applauding them. Orthe moment I realised our September earthquake had be stronger than the Haitiearthquake.
- The pure panic when you realise you don’t have any bottledwater left
- That even a 7.1 earthquake and a state of civil emergencycan’t get you a day off work sometimes!
- That some people are idiots. There’s no other explanation.You can’t predict earthquakes. The earthquakes are not caused by some randomexperiment in Australia. The earthquakes are not caused by drilling for oilsand minerals. Oh that list could go on.
- That Earthquake Brain is real and valid
- That the ability for the human brain to shut down and notlet you understand or comprehend is actually an absolute blessing sometimes. Ithink about that Tuesday as I stood in front of the CTV building trying to workout what I was looking at and seeing that massive fire etc and I am so relievedI didn’t understand. That I didn’t know over 100 people were dying right infront of me in varied and cruel ways. And that I can’t remember some thingsfrom that day.
- That miracles happen. I have no other words for my findingChrissy among the thousands of people that day. No other explanation. And thenthat the first time I tried to call James when he wasn’t replying to my textsthat I got through to him. It wasn’t me,it wasn’t fate, it wasn’t luck, it was a miracle.
- That we adapt. Well our sleeping does. I thought sleepingthrough a 4 was impressive, this week we almost slept through a 5! Well we wokeup but only enough to go wow that was big and go back to sleep!
- That how far you are from the epicentre greatly affectshow strong it feels to you
- That you can get really good at guessing location andmagnitude of earthquakes. For example, if there’s no rumble then chances are it’sreally close to you. Or if there is swaying afterwards then it’s probably quitea way from you.
- That the Rumble to Earthquake and Epicentre relationshipis like the Lightning to Thunder and Storm relationship. The bigger the gap betweenlightning and thunder the further away the storm is. The more of the rumble youhear before you feel the quake, the further away the epicentre is.

Ok I really could keep going with this one but I think it’stime to stop! I think I’ve got my point across: this year has been truly eventfuland we have learnt so much. Some of it funny, some of it painful, some of ituseful, some of it downright useless.

This is not a year we will ever forget. I hope it is also ayear that we never repeat!

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