Sunday, December 26, 2004

An Earthquake Of Perspective

As I sat digesting my Christmas dinner last night, half-watching tv and lazing in a turkey email inbox suddenly began to fill up.

"Bing" "Bing" "Bing"...I got up and looked at my monitor shock.

For the past several years, I have subscribed to the United States Geological Survey earthquake alert service.

It's free and the USGS will send emails immediately following a substantial earthquake to anyone who signs up for the alerts.


Last night...those alerts began coming in at the rate of one every five minutes. And when the eighth alert read 8.9 I was stunned.

As many of you know, I spent a good portion of 2003 and 2004 in Alaska. And while I was there, I visited the coastal town of Valdez.

That town was the site of the last major earthquake in recorded history...which took place in March of 1964.

When the tremor and subsequent tsunami hit, the ground dropped twelve feet in places and the wave stripped all of the bark off of the trees. Those trees that were left standing, anyway.

When I walked through the area that took the hardest hit in Valdez, I saw a roof sticking out of the ground.

"Where's the rest of the house?" I asked my friend.

"Underneath the ground" He replied "The earth sucked down the whole thing."

With the exception of a monument that honors the dead, that area has been left alone since that day in 1964.

And my friend believes that people were buried alive when that house dropped out of sight.

This is what CNN had to say on its website today:

"An estimated 11,000 people are believed to have been killed by the 20-foot-high waves with the most severe death tolls in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand."

I understand the plight of the homeless here in Portland, Oregon.

But their concerns pale in comparison to what the people in the above-listed countries are dealing with today.

And although it's sad to say...sometimes it takes a natural disaster to bring things back into perspective.

I am blessed. So are many people living in this city...including the homeless ones.

And when it comes to terrorism, no wild-eyed renegade in existence would stand a chance against the onslaught of Mother Nature's fury.

Every human being is reminded of his/her mortality every time a major earthquake, tsunami, blizzard, tornado or hurricane hits.

So today I am seriously counting my blessings, crossing my fingers and appreciating what I've got.

UPDATE 2012: And now, following the terrible earthquake in JAPAN, IN 2011 , waves of debris are starting to WASH UP ON THE WESTERN SHORELINE  of North America, all the way up to Alaska.

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