California, which is built on top of the San Andreas Fault, is prone to earthquakes. Locals like me have experienced many earthquakes throughout their lives, minimal ones that are almost never felt since we’ve become accustomed to them. Yesterday’s jolt, however, was most likely the largest earthquake I’ve ever experienced.
Driving home from work, I was barely going underneath the speed limit of 45 miles per hour when the tremor hit. It took me a couple of seconds to process what was going on since my vehicle was already in motion. As I approached a stoplight I noticed my small little Nissan Versa rocking side-to-side like a boat. Bracing myself, I sat there in the dark, in tune with my light weight car; I could sense the movement of the shock absorbers going up and down. As one would imagine the incident was quite nerve-wracking.
As soon as I returned home I did what other local Californians do and went right onto Facebook to check everyone’s status updates. Low and behold people were in shock just like I was; this was an uncommonly larger quake than we were used to. Luckily the seismic activity was not large enough to have done major harm, photos and videos showed a few items falling off shelves in stores and restaurants. In California, the news also heavily reports on these updates complete with instant seismic levels and graphs—a great way to keep everyone informed. Following the 5.1 earthquake we had dozens of smaller ones which were barely noticeable as they had been before.
I believe that most Californians were ill-prepared until Friday’s earthquake which shook us up. My family has even started putting together emergency kits and mapping out an evacuation route. Although large earthquakes are few, it is still worth it to prepare for anything. A very informative website is www.earthquakecountry.org which provides helpful safety tips. If you’re traveling to California and have any other concerns, ask the front desk about their evacuation procedure.
Since I was already driving home when the earthquake occurred, my colleagues filled me in. Our guests were thrown off their guard; a magnitude of that level is the last thought in their minds. Panicking, some called the front desk asking them what was going on not knowing it was an earthquake and others asked if they should evacuate not knowing what to do. When these phenomenons occur the key to keeping our guests calm is communication.
The best thing to remember in any situation is to remain calm. Buildings in California have been made earthquake safe thanks to state regulations. Even though the magnitude of Friday’s earthquake was much higher than anything we’ve had in over twenty-years, many locals have come to not fear the occasional tremor. Remember your basics of “Drop, Cover, and Hold On,” and to make sure you follow directions given by the property you are staying at.
Earthquakes are commonly a trigger for the media and not all are as dangerous as the news makes them out to be. Without earthquakes our landscaping would be completely different! California is famous for its gorgeous scenery—without earthquakes the view wouldn’t be the same and it’s the view people remember from the hills of Hollywood to Yosemite National Park.