An earthquake hit the other day in LA. I woke up at 4 in the morning and my bed rolling like I was on a raft on the ocean.
I turned over and went back to sleep.
The next day I found out it was a 7.0 earthquake. To use the scientific term we use in Southern California: whatever. An earthquake here is about as much surprise as seeing she-males on Jerry Springer.
It is amazing how blasé Californians are to earthquakes. I was at Disneyland with friends once during a big tremor. The ground started to roll. A family from Tennessee in front of us ran around waving their hands in the air screaming, “Earthquake!”. Meanwhile, everyone from California turned sideways and rode the buckling asphalt like they were on surfboards.
This apathy isn’t unique to California. No one gets concerned about their own natural disasters. It’s too close to home.
In Michigan in 1995, a very popular beach at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore suddenly slid into the water. The same thing had happened there TWICE before. Apparently no one noticed. Or cared. Until they slid to the bottom of Lake Michigan.
“Honey, can you hand me that sunscreen WOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!”
(Speaking of Michigan, let me ask you this- why does the Michigan football team play on a cardboard field? Because they are only good on paper.)
People don’t expect natural disasters. This is not a new phenomenon. Pompeii was a busy town until Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, covering everything in 30 feet of volcanic ash.
“Run for your lives! There is a big wall of lava coming down the street!”.
“Oh, come on. Are you sure it’s not the Shrine parade. They have some crazy floats.”
It should not have been a total surprise. Mt. Vesuvius had erupted plenty of times before that. Why did they build the town NEXT TO A VOLCANO?
Real estate agents were the first one to call it “Mount” Vesuvius instead of Volcano Vesuvius. “Volcano? Where? Oh, no, that’s MOUNT Vesuvius. Great hiking up there.”
Even after the whole town was covered up in ash, people continued to move there. To remind these citizens they lived next to a volcano, in 202 Vesuvius erupted again. The eruption lasted a full week. And you thought it was bad when it rained the whole week you were in Puerto Vallarta.
Unlike earthquakes, hurricanes usually provide plenty of time to hit the road. Still, some people decide to hang in there. There are going to “ride it out”. Until the basement fills up with water and the roof ends up in Chicago.
There are three kinds of people when it comes to hurricanes:
– Sensible: This group makes up 80 per cent of the population. They board up the windows, keep fresh water handy and have 2 months of Radio Shack batteries for the transistor radio. They leave if prudence indicates.
– Stubborn: the same people that wouldn’t leave Pompeii. You would have to pry their clenched fingers off the porch railing to get them to leave their house.
– Paranoid: They hit the road as soon as there is a breeze over 10 miles per hour. Within 2 hours they are in Chicago watching a Cubs game. One family from New Orleans is so worried about hurricanes they live in their Winnebago for quick escapes. They usually park in the school parking lot.
“Have a good day, honey, we’ll be right here in the parking lot if you need anything. Come right home from school today. The Winnebago needs a bath.”
People live in the places where they have the same natural disasters every year. I talked with Clem Kopowitz of Wobbly Bowling Pin, Ohio. His family lives in Ohio’s tornado alley and survived one of Ohio’s biggest twisters.
“Clem, you lived though one of Ohio’s worst tornados. Why didn’t you move a long time ago?”
“Well, three years ago a twister took out St. Michael’s Hospital up ‘ere. Two years ago the Lincoln Road Elementary got picked up off the ground and thrown around- now it’s the Washington Blvd. Elementary. Last year the bowl-o-rama went from 24 down to 12 lanes. Ma and I just figured since we got three in three years there’s not a chance in hell we’ll get four. Then the biggest tornado I ever seen came through here. The whole damn house got ripped out of the ground. When we landed I opened the door to find out our front yard was now a beach front.”
On Lake Michigan.