Earth Axis – Haiti and Chile: What can we learn?

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Image by Diegosaurius rex via Flickr

Image by Diegosaurius rex via Flickr

The 8.8 magnitude quake that hit Chile last week damaging homes and leveling buildings in its wake left a death toll surpassing 700. The quake is reported to be the seventh strongest in recorded history; the strongest recorded case also took place in Chile in 1960 with a magnitude of 9.5.  The impact of this deadly quake has not only been felt in Chile, but worldwide.

JPL reported the earthquake to have shifted earth’s axis 3 inches, in effect shortening the length of days on our planet by 1.26 milliseconds.

On a more local level, a quake of such a large magnitude triggered tsunami warnings across many coasts in Southern California, including the shores of San Diego. San Diegans saw an unusually rapid low tide following the Chilean earthquake, with warnings of waves up to 11ft. Similar warnings were also issued to many other Pacific nations due to potentially dangerous tidal waves radiating across the ocean.

The San Diego relief effort following the earthquake in Chile has not seen the explosion of donations and volunteers as that followed the Haiti earthquake. Text donations are struggling in comparison to the Haiti response. The earthquake that hit Haiti had a magnitude of 7.0, but the damage done was far worse.

The Chilean government has responded with speed and resilience in light of the situation, but it was also better prepared due to its earthquake-ridden past. However, the amount of damage done has come out to tens of billions of dollars, and will probably rise as more information is made available. From these recent events, the key solution to preventing such disasters from occurring is preparedness.

In light of the recent quakes in Haiti and Chile, is San Diego prepared in the event of a big one? Realistically speaking, many small quakes take place in California every single day, and residents in San Diego are well-tuned to the possible risks and damages caused by living near the San Andreas fault line, which ends in the Imperial Valley.

Southern California prides itself in being well-prepared for the next big one, but despite earthquake insurance and earthquake-proof building codes, research has shown that California is only a little bit better prepared for such disasters. Man-made structures would see much less destruction than seen in Chile and Haiti due to stricter building codes, but that doesn’t mean American cities are immune- just take a look at what happened in the event of Hurricane Katrina. After all, no one is safe in the eyes of Mother Nature.

The smallest actions on an individual level have the potential to protect yourself and your family in the event of a disaster. Keeping a battery-powered flashlight, as well as sufficient water and food supply to last a couple of days could prevent the possibility of your need for immediate disaster relief. With the power that comes with having a long-time warning, take the individual responsibility to plan and protect yourself from these preventable situations.

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