Last night my wife and I were nearing the end of Simon Winchester’s book about the 1906 earthquake, A Crack in the Edge of the World, where he talks about the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake for a few pages. (Which I remember well: I was in Santa Cruz when it happened.) Ever since then I’ve always reassured myself that the next one won’t be so bad, because Loma Prieta relieved some pressure off the fault. Right? Right??
Wrong, apparently. Winchester writes, in all italics, “the Loma Prieta Earthquake was not a result of a rupture along the San Andreas Fault.” And then he goes on to explain what that means: the pressure on “our” fault hasn’t really been relieved since 1906.
Most disturbingly, he goes on to cite a still-current 2003 U.S. Geological Survey forecast that “sometime before the year 2032, along one of the seven fault systems that belong to the San Andreas cluster and that spear their way through the Bay Area, there is now a machine-computed probability of 62 percent that an earthquake with a moment magnitude of 6.7 or greater will strike. There will be damage and casualties on an impressive scale.” So I went to bed with fear in my heart, aware that I have no earthquake relief kit.
But in the morning I remembered an article I read in the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine last year, right after the brief 5.6 quake we had on October 30. In brief, it’s about a guy named Chris McCloy. His business is to bundle together comprehensive earthquake relief kits at below-market prices. These include a tent and sleeping bags (because your building might be ruined), 2000 calories and 1 gallon of water per person per day for a week, and first-aid, sanitation and other supplies.
Basically, it’s one-stop shopping for earthquake preparedness.
His website is here and it’s well-worth exploring in detail, even if you don’t intend to buy a kit. (They are less expensive than they might be, but it’s still a lot to shell out all at once.) For instance, I find that the only things we’re really lacking from the 2-person box are the most critical: food and water. Time to set about getting those.
And as comprehensive as those kits are, they still don’t cover everything you might need—or want—when the big one strikes. I strongly encourage you to read (and be scared by) these free preparedness guides offered by the US Geological Survey, which will help you develop your own plan and supply kit.