Siw Heede

Wildfires, mudslides, earthquakes, tsunamis. I am trying to come up with a list of natural disasters we live with in Southern California. Not that I am hoping to experience any of them, but after the pretty big trembles in the beginning of July, it makes you wonder if you got your act together when it happens, I was looking for something in our garage and came by the boxes of dried food items and water we have stored in the corner. It makes me think of, when the Big One shakes down the roof of our garage, so that we can’t get to the emergency equipment in there? Then what?

The amount of what-ifs do not help my worrying beehive of a mind. That’s why it’s so smart to forget all about it and live in blissful unawareness until the next quake happens, and you start rummaging through your garage for the preparedness kit.

I read a book about Danes living in the U.S. before we came over almost 13 years ago. A Danish woman had been paralyzed by fear of gun violence to the point of never wanting to walk alone. (I think she lived in a big city.) She and her family chose to move back to Denmark. But it made me think of how many families do choose to move away from areas with high risks, in this case natural disaster risks?

The Camp wildfire in Paradise in Northern California displaced 90 percent of its population and many will never return. Had they known about the actual risk of wildfires and the lack of evacuation roads, would any of them have moved beforehand?

The Ridgecrest earth quake on July 4 with aftershocks up to 7.1 magnitude shook all of Southern California, actually all the way to Las Vegas. Still, life goes back to normalcy extremely quick. Yeah, yeah, we had a few quakes, “Where were you when it happened?” and “Ha ha, that was crazy!” and life goes on.

Being paralyzed with fear gets you nowhere and obviously moving to a different part of the country is not an option for most people. Besides, risks of hurricanes (remember Hurricane Harvey in Houston two years ago?), tornadoes, the flooding of major rivers. Where is truly a safer place? In Iceland families living on an active volcano have a bag ready by the front door when the eruption hits and they have only minutes to run out the door. Can you imagine living there?

In our old house we had pesky visitors of scorpions which with a crawling baby and a toddler makes you feel pretty unsafe. We found them about twice a year, which is probably the same amount of time we experience a good tremble. It’s funny how I am able to forget and forgive the earthquakes fairly easy and get on with my life, but the scorpions really shook me. It felt like a thief stealing your stuff at night and you never know when they’ll be back.

Yet, this is the reality we live today. Having a plan in case of disaster and hoping for the best seems like the only way forward. Putting our head in the sand and realizing too late that our evacuation roads are blocked are not. And I just want to emphasize that we Inland Empireans are a bunch of defiant daredevils living on the San Andreas Fault! Go us!