April 4 seemed to sneak up on us this year.
On that day three years ago many of us were in the midst of Easter Sunday celebrations, or in post-Easter luncheon slumber, when the earth started moving, and then it really shook. Fragile knick-knacks and dishes flew off shelves and out of cupboards, shattering into slivers. Bricks crumbled. So did foundations, particularly those supporting mobile homes, of which there are thousands in Imperial County. Power was out throughout the southern portion of the county, and as the sky darkened, candles and flashlights were put to use. As Easter revelers tried to return to their U.S. homes after visiting family in Mexicali, they waited for hours to cross the border. Overloaded cellular phone towers were unable to withstand the flood of frantic calls to check on friends and family, and forget about trying land lines. Infrastructure inside cities and out in county areas was damaged, with some city facilities sitting unusable for months.
earthquake, epicentered south of Mexicali, shook us to the core. For days, thousands of aftershocks followed, some measuring above 6.0, and we braced for worse. It never came. Neither did immediate national media attention. For days the attention focused on how the quake was felt in San Diego or Los Angeles, with little mention in the national news of Americans in our corner of California shaken by an earthquake stronger than the one that hit Haiti weeks before.
As the dust settled, it became clear that residents of the Imperial and Mexicali valleys were — are — survivors. In the 45 seconds that the ground threatened to split open, this Valley was transported to an earlier era, one without power, without telephones, without access to the Internet. Our elderly, many of them residing in those mobile homes shaken off the foundations, particularly seemed hard-hit.
But instead of bemoaning our fate, our citizenry began checking on neighbors, friends, family members, lending helping hands wherever needed, taking in people suddenly bereft of a place to live.
It was a long road to recovery, with much-needed financial aid eventually coming from governing bodies. Three years later evidence of the quake can be seen around us. Indeed, some roads remain closed because of damage.
But, having lived through this quake made us stronger. More importantly, it made us aware of how quickly modern conveniences suddenly aren’t so convenient, and, because our county is astride a spider’s web of fault lines, each of us had better have a plan of action. Not just in case, but when, there’s a next time.
THE ISSUE: Three-year anniversary of 7.2 quake.
WE SAY: The quake made us stronger.
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