This article is not about some end-of-the-world, sci-fi, suspense novel or television show. It’s not even about Armageddon or the latest Apocalypse.
This article is about something everyone seems to know about, but few if any really pay attention to. In fact, as we go about another day here in the Pacific Northwest, there is a catastrophe brewing right under our feet.
What is it, you might ask?
Well, it’s the Mega Quake.
Looking for Paradise
When I got out of the military, I spent some time traveling around the country, searching for places I might like to live.
I looked in Texas first, but found it’s just one big tornado target (especially where houses are cheapest – wonder why).
I also broke down for three days in a place called North Platte, Nebraska. I really loved it there. But, the first video I saw when I looked the town up on Youtube, was a family huddling in their basement during a – yep – you guessed it – a tornado.
I found much of the east coast way too over populated and prone to seasonal hurricanes, the south infested with bugs and alligators, and everywhere else too hot or too cold or both!
California is – well – let’s just say the Golden State is a….. Non starter.
Up north, states like Montana and North Dakota, are freezing most of the winter, and Alaska has giant bears that want to eat me.
I was not surprised, after all this searching, I found no other place as breathtaking, no other area as beautiful, with such a mild climate, or low population as the coastal pacific northwest. The area I finally settled in is usually in the low 70’s throughout the summer and barely dips into the 30’s in winter. Yes, there is a lot of rain and wind and cloud cover and fog, but I’ve found I really thrive in this kind of environment.
Let’s face it. I’m not a sun worshiper.
But, despite the picture perfect (for me) environment, there still lurks a natural disaster risk that could do more damage than a hundred tornadoes combined.
They call it the MegaQuake.
Location, Location, Location
Just offshore of Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and Canada is a particular fault known as the Cascadia Subduction Zone. It is where the ocean floor plunges under the American and Canadian land mass, which ultimately creates our volcanoes in this region as well.
But, this subduction also causes the coastal landmass to bulge, and friction begins to build all along the fault line – has been building for hundreds of years – as pressure increases from the persistent movement. At some point, the pressure will prove too great and the landmass will slip. This will cause an earthquake of near biblical proportions, leaving these coastal regions akin to a dystopian wasteland for years or decades to come.
When the @#$@ Hits the Fan
Consider waking up in the middle of the night, first to all the dogs in your neighborhood barking. You scramble out of bed and skitter under your desk just in time as the tremors start.
Realistically, is this something I really want to survive?
Now, experts say you should just buckle in for the long haul at this point. You have 3 to 10 minutes to hold out, hoping you 1) don’t get crushed by falling furniture, or your house doesn’t topple in on you, and 2) you’re not close to massive trees that could fall on you or at the bottom of a landslide, or you didn’t inadvertently build your house on low-lying land that is prone to liquefaction.
But, just in case you climb out from under your desk 8 minutes later, and, after checking yourself to make sure you’re all in one piece, you find your house is all but demolished – you’re going to need a few tips to make your way in the new world outside. Because, believe me when I tell you, you’re not in Kansas any more (and you’re going to wish you were).
What Happens After
So you survived all that shaking, dodged any trees that came down (even if by only a foot), and there were no landslides or liquefaction in your area – you now climb out of what’s left of your house and get your first look around.
Be forewarned. They say wood built structures, on average, are better able to withstand the forces of an earthquake than brick buildings will. Apply as needed. I am really glad I didn’t buy that commercial building when I moved here.
As you look outside for the first time, you can’t believe your eyes.
The prediction is, those who survive the Mega Quake are very lucky people. There will be a lot of dead and dying (14,000), many more injured (30,000) or trapped in their cars, in their shambled homes.
As you look around, the first thing you notice is the many fires that have broken out. Power lines are down, and the roads are cracked and crumbled due to shifting ground underfoot. It is said that the entire coastal land mass will drop up to 6 feet as the pressure is released and the land flattens out.
In coastal communities that are near sea level, this could immediately bring flash flooding as the ocean sweeps in and takes back the land it lost hundreds of years ago.
But, you can’t think about any of this right now. You can’t think about your neighbor, who is trapped under that telephone pole. You can’t think of the stranger out on the road who drove their car into the ditch. You can’t even think about all the people stranded on the crumbling bridge in the distance that has all but collapsed.
You can’t think of any of this because you need to get the hell out of there. Hopefully you had a “go” bag packed before the quake hit. If you did, you’re one of the few. Most don’t. But, either way, you need to head for high ground because you now have only twenty minutes to get out of reach of the tsunami coming ashore.
If you’ve visited this area much, you surely have seen the blue wave tsunami signs that litter public areas up and down the coastline of North America.
These markers alert you to the fact that you’re in the inundation zone, and need to seek higher ground immediately. Every coastal town has a “safe” place where you’re supposed to rally. Even my town that is protected by a large, 200 foot high mountain ridge, still has evacuation zones in case the tsunami manages to wrap around the ridge and snatch us away when we’re not looking.
My house is located at ten measly feet above sea level.
Now, in my area, opinions vary about the length of time recovery will take. Most fall into the category of 30 days to three months before emergency services are restored. But, they also say it will be decades before the region is fully back to normal.
That means, no electricity. No food in stores. No gasoline. No police force.
For days. Weeks. Maybe even months.
Some experts say the entire coastal area will be closed down due to severe road destruction. Rescue crews will be overwhelmed, and, although the Feds, the States, and the military have worked together to plan for when the big one hits, there are realistically only so many people, only so much machinery, and only so much money to go around.
How Can You Prepare?
There is really not much you can do if you live in my area to prepare for the MegaQuake.
One expert stated the only thing people can do on the coast is move inland, but even the interior areas don’t seem to have a better prognosis.
Authorities state the best thing to do is to make sure you have potable water for a few weeks to even a few months.
They also say you should have a stockpile of food for each person that lives in your household.
I don’t have that either.
The fringe, of course, would say you need to also be well armed, have plenty of ammunition, and lots of gold and silver.
It sounds funny just typing that.
In the end, I’m not sure if I would want to be one of the “lucky ones” that survives. The whole region would be displaced for many years. My job would be gone. Most likely my house, definitely all the services.
I would think rather quickly we would see disease and theft and a skyrocket in other crime. With no food at the supermarket, no internet, no water – and now – no medications.
If I’m caught up in it, I really should be praying to die quickly, or at least, praying for a quick rescue that most likely won’t be coming.
One thing is for sure, if and when the Mega Quake ever does hit this region, it will be a whole new world after that.
And, I’m not really sure I want to be here to see it.
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