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Shock Factors: Youth Reflect on Quakes Near and Far

New America Media, Commentary, Various Authors Posted: Mar 07, 2010

Editor's Note: After catastrophic earthquakes in Haiti and Chili in less than two months, Bay Area youth reflect on their preparedness for a natural disaster and how it would affect their families.

Were Not Prepared

My stepfather works in construction, so Id like to believe our house wouldnt collapse if an earthquake strikes the Bay Area. During most of my childhood, my stepfather and mother spent so much money tearing down and rebuilding different sections of our old house. However, whenever a door is slammed by a family member or by the wind, you can almost hear our whole house shake.

A lot of people live in our home because we rent out rooms, so Im not sure if were all prepared for an earthquake. The only preparation we have is the knowledge of where the doors are and the basic idea to take shelter underneath a table. We dont have a shelter behind or underneath our house. We havent stored food for earthquakes; we only buy what we will eat that week when we go to the supermarket.

If our house collapsed, my family and I would be homeless because we dont have money saved in the bank for emergencies. At least, I dont know of any such money.

I know that being on the ground is better in the situation of an earthquake because the further up from sea level you are, the more likely you are to be affected by the shake, I think. So I wouldnt really be afraid unless I lived somewhere like San Francisco or the Oakland Hills.

Still, if an earthquake happened tomorrow, I would be most scared of losing the home my mother worked so hard to obtain. Along with our home are so many childhood memories.

-- Oscar Sevellon, 17

Awake For The Quake

I think that we are overdue to get hit with a big quake, like the one in 1989. It scares me sometimes because I hate unexpected things. With climate change, the earth shifting, and all these natural disasters, I feel the earth is trying to show us that something is wrong.

My family and I are not prepared for the big earthquake because I am pregnant and I dont want to think about the possibility of anything negative that might happen sometime soon. I dont want to think about what would happen if an earthquake hit and how it might affect my family.

Ive been in denial about earthquakes for a long time and I know I need to get ready. The best way to prepare for an earthquake is get together all the thing you might need, like bat tiers, fire, can or dried food, and lots of water. You should have a bag of basic things for each person in your family---things you cant live without, like medications and water.

I dont think that my community is ready for an earthquake at all. I think that my community would start looting so people could provide for their family. I dont think that is a necessarily a bad thing--I would do loot if an earthquake happened and I wasnt prepared.

If we had a earthquake tomorrow, I would be most afraid of losing my son or getting split up from my man because I know he would hold it down for us---but we would all have to be together.

--Valerie Klinker, 19

Stick to Kool-Aid and Canned Foods

Its crazy how all these natural disasters are happening back-to-back across the world.

Last year, my sister decided to prepare an emergency duffle bag for everyone in my family. Each bag contains flashlights, lighters, and a first aid kit. To prepare for a potential earthquake, buy canned foods, Kool-Aid, oatmealfoods that dont spoil for a long time. I have no idea if my community is prepared for a natural disaster. If an earthquake happened tomorrow, I pray that everyone would be okay. I just had a dream about my sister and me taking a trip to Target to stock up on emergency kit things, so earthquakes have been on my mind.

--Angelica Arreola, 19

Not Prepared? Visit The Dollar Store!

First off, I just want to pay my respects to all the people in Haiti and Chile. I am so sorry for your losses.

In California, an earthquake could occur at any moment. This scares me, but its not something I constantly think about. The only time Ive heard people in my neighborhood prepare for an earthquake is at school. But at school, we were more afraid of a potential bullet rather than a potential natural disaster. We could visualize someone shooting--weve seen it before--but its hard to imagine sidewalks cracking.

A person can prepare for an earthquake with survival techniques and drills, but when the earthquake actually happens, panic may set in and who knows if youll be able to protect yourself in the ways you prepared?

Im not sure if Im prepared for an earthquake. I guess itll depend on the magnitude of the earthquake. As far as food and water, Im prepared because my mom has a special storage of supplies like canned food, bottled water, flashlights, blankets, tissues, and a first aid kit.

If youre on a small budget and dont think you have enough cash to store up for a natural disaster, buy certain supplies from the 99 cent store. All you need is water, sardines, peanut butter, bread, jelly, and canned peaches. Some baby food taste good, as well.

People are more worried about things that are happening in their lives today rather than what might happen in the future. Im afraid of what it would be like to be stuck in an earthquakes aftermath. I cant imagine being stranded for days, being stuck under debris, calling for help. I never want to feel helpless and hopeless.

-- Sean Shavers, 19

First The Recession, Next An Earthquake?

If an earthquake happens in San Francisco, everything will be all bad. First off, the city doesnt have any money, so how would we be able to fix all the damage? Plus, think about all the people who would die in a big earthquake.

My family is not prepared for an earthquake, but I will help them get prepared cause its very important. We should get food, water and candles. We could lose everything in an earthquake.

It feels like my community is not even trippin off a potential earthquake cause I don't see anyone here getting ready for one. I called a few people, and most people I talk to don't even know that an earthquake is supposed to hit us. The last earthquake that hit us was 20 years ago. It was ugly because the Bay Bridge collapsed [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFwJR04qBys]]. I hope the bridge doesnt break again, but if it does, I dont want to be on the bridge because I cant swim.

If an earthquake hits tomorrow, Ill be most afraid of losing somebody close to me, like my mom, brothers and even my dad. Other than that, Im not really trippin off it.

-- Jaquan Rushin, 20

Apathy Over Earthquake Prep

Ive heard countless warnings from my friends to check www.72hours.org for tips on how to prepare for the inevitable earthquake. Yet these precautionary warnings have fallen on deaf ears. Even though we live near the epicenter of a potential quake, were not really listening to these warnings.

I am less prepared than I should be. I barely have money to enjoy some frivolous and recreational fun yet alone to spend on preparatory emergency measures. Like many other young people scrapped for cash, Im apathetic towards saving for the future, and I usually spend money for the now.

I know nature will strike at the most inopportune moment. Should disaster strike tomorrow or sometime soon, I wont be more prepared. Like I said, Im apathetic about preparing for an earthquake.

-- Walter Lopez, 22

Related Articles:

Haitian Diaspora Ready to Help

Doctor: Haiti Lacks Critical Health Infrastructure

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