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Posts Tagged ‘earthquake’

I’m a California girl.  I grew up in earthquake country —  the San Francisco Bay Area to be exact.  I was raised on my grandparents’ stories of the day the Earth Shook, The Sky Burned in San Francisco on April 18, 1906.  A favorite was of my 8-year old grandmother bringing jugs of water to refugees, whose homes had either collapsed from the violent shaking or burned in the fires that broke out.  They were camped out under tents and tarps in the Masonic Cemetery, where her stepfather was the manager — and the thought of the living, living with the dead was captivating to my 8-year old self.  Perhaps another reason why Oaxaca feels like home.

The first earthquake I remember was in first grade.  I gripped my desk, as it rocked back and forth and watched, wide-eyed, as the massive row of windows that lined one wall of my classroom moved in and out, distorting the trees and pink house across the street.  I’m not sure if we were directed to get under our desks, but I do remember my first grade teacher, Mrs. Chase (one of the best teachers ever!), in her comforting, calm, and very competent way, conveying a sense of safety.  Our 1938 wood-frame house, on the side of Mt. Tamalpais was fine, save for several cracks in the lath and plaster walls.  Years later, I learned that it was built on bedrock — a good thing!

Several more earthquakes ensued as I grew up and raised my family in the Bay Area — and I learned to be prepared.  We kept earthquake supplies in the basement — enough water and food to last three days, flashlights, battery-powered radio, etc.  My car was always stocked with bottles of water and protein bars, a sleeping bag and flashlight, sweatshirt and old gym shoes, and a first aid kit.  Luckily, we didn’t have to use any of them following the 7.1 Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.   However, our eyes were glued to the television.  Before the earthquake hit, we had been about to gather in the living room to watch the “Bay Bridge” World Series — the San Francisco Giants versus their across the San Francisco Bay rivals, the Oakland Athletics.  Instead, we watched part of the Bay Bridge collapse and houses built on landfill in the Marina of San Francisco collapse.  We were fine, but nerves were shattered and for days after, every aftershock had me ready to bolt.

During my first visit to Oaxaca in 2007, I awoke to an earthquake — that dreaded, but familiar, feeling flooded my body but it was small and all was okay.  Thankfully, I was in the USA for the 8.2 earthquake that devastated parts of the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas almost two weeks ago.  However, I have experienced several smaller ones since moving here, including the March 20, 2012, 7.4 earthquake.  Walking up Macedonio Alcalá, I didn’t feel that one, but heard windows rattle and people cry, “terremoto” as they streamed out into the street.  There have been many aftershocks from the Sept. 7th earthquake since I’ve been back, a couple at 5.6 on the Richter scale, but I haven’t felt them either.  Giving thanks to Roberta French and her degree in structural engineering from MIT for building such a sturdy, well designed apartment complex on bedrock!

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It was the same yesterday.  Blogger buddy Chris and I were walking up the Alcalá on our way to Las Quince Letras for the traditional Mes de la Patria (celebrating independence from Spain) dish, chiles en nogada.  We were talking — catching up after my six-week trip.  As we turned onto Abasolo, we noticed cars stopped at all intersections and people milling around on the streets.  A blockade was our first thought.  After all, this is Oaxaca!  We soon discovered, it was a 7.1 earthquake (epicenter near the Puebla/Morelos border) that brought traffic to a halt and people out of buildings.  This latest earthquake has taken lives (currently more than 200 people, in 6 states) and destroyed buildings, especially in Mexico City — but we didn’t feel a thing!  Apparently, the shaking was felt all over Oaxaca city, just not by us walking along the cantera (stone) roadbed of the Alcalá.  I spent the rest of yesterday afternoon and evening glued to the news out of Mexico City — and I continue watching and reading in horror as the destruction unfolds.

I’m fine, my friends in Oaxaca, Mexico City, and Chiapas are fine, my apartment is fine.  So, why am I writing this?  A catharsis, perhaps….  But also to say to those who are new to or have no experience with the earth violently shaking:  You never get used to it — you never take it in stride, as you never know when that stride will be broken as the ground begins shifting beneath your feet.  And, you always anticipate — it’s one of the reasons, I keep my cell phone and keys with an emergency buzzer in my pocket and a bottle of water and a protein bar in my purse.  In addition, like hurricanes, people and their governments must pay close attention to, and strictly regulate, where and how buildings are constructed — greed and corruption should not trump lives — and a priority should be placed on early warning systems in earthquake countries around the world.

To satisfy my inner-librarian, I recommend to you a few articles to begin to understand the whys and hows:

 

 

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A skein of yarn waiting to be woven…

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Agave blossoms reaching for the sky…

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Ceramic sculpture of a Tehuana by Fran Garcia Vásquez.

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Ooops, a broken arm!  It seems appropriate that my only casualty from the 8.2 earthquake depicts a woman from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec — the region where some of the most severe damage in the state of Oaxaca occurred.  However, like the people she represents, she is strong, proud, and healing will happen.

If you want to help the victims of the September 7 earthquake, please see my previous post.  If you do, reward yourself by watching last night’s benefit at the Guelaguetza Auditorium, Oaxaca Corazón.  And, if you don’t, perhaps this spectacular concert will encourage you to donate to earthquake relief.

This all-star event, organized in less than a week by Lila Downs and Susana Harp, will have tears falling — I guarantee it!

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Late on the night of September 7, 2017, in the mountains of Telluride, Colorado, my phone dinged — a message from a friend in Oaxaca concerned about my 91 year old neighbor.  That was my first news of the largest earthquake to hit Mexico in a century last week.  Needless to say, I spent half the night monitoring news sites, emailing, messaging, and checking status updates by friends and neighbors on Facebook.  Thankfully, all friends and neighbors came away relatively unscathed — save for severely frayed nerves.

The epicenter of the 8.1 (8.2 according to Mexican authorities) earthquake was off the coast of Chiapas.  Given its geography, the state of Oaxaca has been hard hit.  The red bullets on the map below show some of areas in the state most severely affected.

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As of yesterday, the death toll was up to 91.  According to reports from Oaxaca’s governor, more than 800,000 people in the state potentially lost everything and in Juchitán de Zaragoza, in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region, 5,000 homes were destroyed.  The earthquake also devastated the mountain communities of the Mixe.

Oaxaca and Chiapas are two of the poorest states in Mexico and help is urgently needed.  Maestro Francisco Toledo, who is from Juchitán, is collecting funds through his non-profit, Amigos del Instituto de Artes Gráficas de Oaxaca y del Centro Fotográfico.  For details see below:

https://i0.wp.com/oaxacaculture.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Earthquake-help-Mexico.jpg

 

Oaxaca earthquake relief is also being solicited by the following organizations and individuals:

CADENA (Comite de Ayuda a Desastres y Emergencias Nacionales A.C.)
BANAMEX
Sucursal: 7009
CUENTA: 189458
CLABE: 002180700901894588
https://cadena.ngo/dona

The Harp Helu Foundation will match 1 X 1 for any contributions directly to:
Citibanamex
Cuenta 23, Sucursal 100
CLABE: 002 180 010 000 000 235
Formento Social Banamex, A.C.

The government agency, DIF Oaxaca is taking donations:
• Voluntariado DIF Oaxaca, Avenida Juarez 914, Col. Centro
• Hangar del Gobierno de Oaxaca, Aeropuerto Internacional, Santa Cruz Xoxocotlan
• Gimnasio Ricardo Flores Magon, Derechos Humanos s/n Col. America Sur
• Oficianas Centrales DIF Oaxaca, Vicente Guerrero 114, Col. Miguel Aleman

Casa de Esperanza House of Hope Anabaptist Community Church is receiving donations in any form (groceries, baby food, money, etc.) to be sent to the coast where many have lost their homes or family members. Please bring your donations to: Casa de Esperanza— Camino Nacional 929-3 Ixcotel Oaxaca Oax Te l 9 5 1 1 7 6 3 1 5 3

Omar Alonso of Oaxacking has set up a YouCaring crowd funding site to aid in relief efforts in Juchitan.

Flor Cervantes, who founded, Mujeres de 8 de Marzo in Juchitan, is collecting funds for the refuge.  For more information call her in Oaxaca at:  951 125 02 48

And, the Oaxaca Lending Library is working on collecting and sending supplies and money to the areas in Oaxaca most affected.

If you aren’t dealing with hurricanes Harvey and Irma destruction, PLEASE HELP Oaxaca!!!

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This morning, I was awakened from a sound sleep by the insistent siren and recorded voice alerting the neighborhood of an impending earthquake.  I bolted upright, moved to the side of the bed and slipped on my flip-flops — ready to head out the door if shaking commenced.  As I’ve mentioned before, I think Mexico’s Earthquake Warning System is terrific and something the US should emulate.

However, this time, no rocking and rolling occurred, but I was left wide awake and wondering if and where an earthquake had occurred.  So I pulled out my iPod Touch and opened my iEarthquake app and found that at 5:10 this morning, there was a magnitude 5.7 earthquake about 105 miles WSW from the city of Oaxaca in the mountains near the coast.  The epicenter was 6.2 miles northwest of Pinotepa Nacional, in the Costa region of the state of Oaxaca.

So, I decided to use this event for a geography lesson.  The state of Oaxaca has 8 regions (it used to be 7, but not too long ago the Sierra Region was split into two):

These regions are home to 14 distinct ethno linguistic groups and the regions vary dramatically in topography, vegetation, and climate.  One can catch a glimpse of the unique costumes, dances, and dancers of each region during the Guelaguetza celebration in Oaxaca in July.   The city of Oaxaca is located in the Valles Centrales (“Centro” on the map below).

Color coded map of the regions and districts of Oaxaca

Map from Wikipedia

For a painless way to learn more about the geography of Mexico, you might want to take a look at the Mexican States games.

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As someone who spent most of her life in the San Francisco Bay Area and has experienced a fair share of earthquakes, including the deadly Loma Prieta quake in 1989, I think the Mexican government seems to take warning it’s population more seriously — placing a higher value on preventing the loss of life, in the case of earthquakes, than the powers-that-be in el Norte.

Though I didn’t hear the early warning siren in Oaxaca for Tuesday’s 7.4 earthquake (or, perhaps I wasn’t tuned in to what it was), I did hear it for a couple of aftershocks.

By the way, I arrived in Chiapas yesterday morning, and the talk is about the highly publicized drill that was conducted statewide, with sirens blaring, only minutes before our 7.4 terremoto hit.


Why California Lacks an Earthquake Warning System Like Mexico’s (via The Bay Citizen)

Early alerts gave people time to go to safe areas before large quake hit By John Upton, Matt Smith on March 22, 2012 – 5:43 p.m. PDT Alicia Montiel Rodriguez was in an office building in southern Mexico City Tuesday when alarms began to sound, piercing the air with beeping tones and recorded messages…

(more…)

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…under my feet.  Well, actually I didn’t feel the 7.4 terremoto (earthquake) about noon today.   I heard it!  I was walking up the Álcala and the windows on one of the university buildings started rattling and people began pouring into the streets, murmuring “un terremoto, un terremoto!”

People standing around in the Plaza de la Danza in front of the Palacio Municipal

The above photo was taken from above the Plaza de la Danza, outside the Palacio Municipal, about a half an hour after the initial shake and shortly before sirens went off and a 5.0 aftershock struck — which I also didn’t feel!

Representative of the Proteccíon Civil Municipal de Oaxaca in a yellow vest giving a press conference.

I continued on with my shopping and when I passed by the Palacio Municipal again, the media was all over the place, and more press conferences out on the sidewalk were being conducted.  The fellow above is from the Proteccíon Civil Municipal of Oaxaca.  The fellow below was speaking about the schools.

Video cameraman focused on man speaking.

Though there is concern for the rural villages closer to the epicenter, currently all is well in the city.   And one of the members of the municipal police force assured me the daughter of “my” president was fine.

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