When the Earth Trembles
Tuesday night saw all of us run out of the house seconds after the first tremors rolled across the house. Welcome to the seismically active Bay Area, an area neatly framed with interesting fault lines. The Hayward fault lies to the East of us and the San Andreas one to the West.
My husband's nephew was visiting us that very instant and he was scared stiff. He was ready to quit his job and pack his bags back to "safe" Chennai! It was quite funny and yet normal to see that response from a person who had just experienced his first earthquake.
My first experience of the earth delicately stretching a finger was in Delhi in the 80s. It was pretty late at night and I wondered who shook my bed so vigorously?! The best joke was my mom relating to us the next morning that she was angry with father for so violently shaking his ear! The next day's paper told us it was an earthquake! My next incident that really made me totally cognisant of this amazing force of nature was the Utharanchal earthquake on 20th October, 1991. We had just returned to Delhi from a trip to Gangotri. The guest house we had stayed at, in Uttarkashi on 18th night, had fallen into the Ganga within 36 hours of our leaving. You can barely imagine the feelings in our hearts that day after reading the paper.
The Bhuj quake in 2001 January was yet another experience- this time around, we were busy mobilizing funds and donations through the Art of Living. It kept us focsed on the issue in a more productive way. What amazed me was the spiritual strength of the people affected. There was no blaming and complaints. Just an acceptance of Earth and her movement. Of course, they were anguished about their personal loss of life of family and friends, with great acceptance.
The Tsunamis triggered by the quake in Dec 2004 was probably the most dramatic of all. The blogsphere rose to the occasion and networked in a way that had never happened before.
In all these situations, what came through was the tenacity of the human spirit towards life in spite of the destruction. It was about humanity reaching out and giving solace. The finer aspects of humans like generosity and caring was self evident.
However, there is much we need to know about dealing with quakes and other natural disasters. The Red Cross offers special training to specific groups of volunteers to learn to deal with Disasters that impact large groups of people. Mass Care is one such training that teaches us to be efficiently useful in such times. Running a shelter is yet another aspect of Mass Care. After the Tsunami, volunteers converged so fast to the east coast of Tamil Nadu, that there were issues of hygiene, availability of water for the affected and volunteers etc. The logistics of handling masses of people after huge damage to preexisting infrastructure is an ongoing problem. This can be addressed to some extent if we plan a little ahead and organize ourselves better.
As nature never gives us an intimation before sending in a storm, an earthquake or a wildfire, it is a good idea to get ourselves organized now. Therefore, my dear readers, please do get your friends and family together and get a disaster relief party ready.
When the Earth Trembles
- » Published on November 01, 2007
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