It’s been 27 years since I lived through the devastating earthquake in Northridge, California.
You would think after two decades the memories would be diminished, but in fact, they make my heart beat faster, and create an almost panic feeling of helplessness. It triggers my need to flee, quickly. But there is often no place to run.
In our case, when the violent shaking began in the pre-dawn, my husband and I were thrown out of our bed. My first instinct was to crawl under the bed, but then I remembered that I was to get in a doorway. Hiding under something might be good in a tornado, but not in a quake. Groggily I crawled to the closest door and by the time I reach the supposedly safe spot the movement was over. Not the noise, but at least the gyrating.
I had teased my husband for the entire six years we lived in California about his insistence on having gallons of bottled water, canned goods, an axe, butane lanterns (and the list goes on) all stored in a safe place, just in case an earthquake came close to us. In February 2014 one came very close. The Northridge Quake struck just a couple of blocks from my place of work, and not too far from our home.
Ironically we were packed to leave LA that week, coming home to Texas with only a few dishes left in the cabinets. In the days that followed, I had to admit that Jack had been right, we needed all those supplies he had stowed away ‘just in case’.
We were fortunate because we had less damage than many of our friends. Some lost their homes, cars, possessions, had injuries and they had not planned ahead so were without food and water. It was a chaotic time, and most people were helping others who needed help desperately.
This reaching out to assist is what I see in so many disasters. Those who have lost a lot give to those who have lost even more. And those who avoided the devastation rush in to offer help, support, and encouragement. Because that’s what people do. It’s part of our humanity. It’s what our hearts tell us to do.
Thank goodness most of us listen to that voice whispering, often screaming, in our soul to reach out and help, understanding that ‘there but for the Grace of God…’
The panic attacks are gone, but the memories of receiving and giving will always outlive the fear I felt in those few seconds of the earth moving.
During last week’s devastating ice, cold and snow storm I am humbled by the generosity and caring shown by the people across the community, the state and the nation for those who lost so much and suffered so deeply.
A huge thank you is sent to all those who helped, donated, and volunteered to ease the burden on their neighbors.