March 23, 2011 by David Gillaspie
Except For Tsunami Forcast, Then It’s Da Do Run, Run, Run, Da Do Run Run
An observation: some people panic in an emergency and go into shock.
Like a manic/depressive, or bi-polar afflicted, others shift into high gear at the hint of an emergency.
There’s room between the two, but not much when you’re in the danger zone.
Oregon’s ‘Spring Break Quake’ on March 25, 1993 made my house jump enough that I flew out of bed and found the nearest doorway. My sleeping wife, an LA-quake veteran, went back to sleep while I hustled our kids into dazed action.
When nothing dire happened I felt like a big wussy. It got worse when a planned trip to the beach the next weekend came with an earthquake forecast that felt doom-struck.
To hide my fears from the women and children I acted like nothing was going to happen. Why is the car parked over there? Why didn’t we unpack everything? You don’t get a second chance to be prepared after panic sets in.
And it did.
Cannon Beach runs tsunami alerts on a regular schedule. My semi-calm exterior broke when they ran an alert the next morning. At the sound of deafening moo cow sounds, the alert, I packed the car and strapped the kids to their car seats in record time.
Wife: “What are you doing, you nutcase?”
“Nothing, honey, get in the car.”
“I’m not ready.”
“Don’t worry, get in the car.”
“Will you stop?”
“Stop what? Get in the car and let’s drive up the mountain.”
“It’s a tsunami alert, not a tsunami.”
We spent the rest of the day driving down the coast and stopped for lunch at a nice beachside place. A loud whistle sounded and I grabbed everyone again and strapped them into their seats for a speed-run up the nearest hill.
Two sprints in one day was too many, but it was a good test. No one got hurt. At worst I looked silly throwing everything into the car and waiting with the engine revved, but my Boy Scout troop leader and Army medic instructors would have been proud.
Spring Break, 2011 had a similar eerie feel.
The horror of the Japanese quake and tsunami churned the news feeds. The Oregonian had a front page story on preparedness below a picture of the Pacific City neighborhood of Tierra del Mar.
Wife: “Look, you can see the house we’re renting.”
“The one on the end?”
“The one that looks like high tide comes up to the backdoor?”
“That’s the one, the best beach house ever.”
The lessons from the Spring Break Quake of 1993 bubbled up. Stay calm was a big one. We parked the cars facing out for a quick escape. We found Irish Lane, one of the dead-end roads that run toward the beach. It went up a hill on the other side of the main road.
Any chance of making it out of a tsunami on Tierra del Mar meant getting to Irish Lane. It had a nice ring to it.
What didn’t have a nice ring were the peculiar circumstances lining up: a full moon passing closer to earth than any time until 2016, and an equinoctial spring tide (another name for really high tide), which creates a seismic window.
If you want a view out this window, it doesn’t get any better than Pacific City.
As a blogger, you have choices not available to other writers. You can take it any direction you want, from deadly serious to frivolous. A tsunami is deadly serious and to make it anything less is disrespect to those who lost everything.
Writing about disaster, or potential disaster, opens a door to places you don’t usually go. Like a good blogger, I follow problogger.net. When a recent guest blogger suggested you Think, Do, and Write, it hit home.
Spring Break on the beach after the Japanese earthquake made me think hard about the Spring Break Quake of ’93. I could write about it without going. Doing wasn’t required, but not doing wasn’t a good option either. After a good look out the seismic window, I wrote this:
The lesson learned is about loved ones. It takes one to be one. If all of your loved ones go to the beach, choke down your fear and go along. And be of good cheer.