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Friday, March 18, 2011

Will curiosity kill us?

Our children know that we sleep late, but they tried to wake us and alert us about the incoming tsunami  predicted to hit the west coast. 

Hubby had been up and had heard about the earthquake and had told me about it as soon as it happened.
He calculated that it would be a few hours before a tsunami wave would get to us and  tried to get some winks.  At four a.m. we heard a knock at the door. We ignored it for a while; sometimes birds, deer and raccoon bump against the house and it feels/sounds as though someone is at the door.  The knock was insistent.  So, Hubby got up and saw a sheriff's car on the driveway of the next house, and a pamphlet at the doorstep. 

I got up. Nothing had hit Hawaii yet, so we had time.
I woke my hubby about 7:00, and it took me a bit of effort to get him up.
We left our house after Hawaii was hit.

Cars were lining up on Cedar Terrace, a neighborhood across the highway,  over the next hill. There, each neighbor had a bit of a story. They told us that parts of the highway were blocked off, before bridges, for instance, and in low areas.

If major tsunami waves had hit the west coast, many towns would be isolated for months, leaving many residents to fend for themselves.  Our town has no doctors, no pharmacies.

We tried to call out to California to our two boys. Our phone didn't work.
We waited in a cold car (cold by comparison to our warm house.) The outside temps were in the 40's.

It reminded me of the earthquakes in California, the last one causing so many injuries.  I always take these drills seriously. Hubby was quite reluctant to remain put and waiting.  When he saw the harbor master drive down to work around eight, he was chafing at the bit to get out of sitting around. If it had been warmer, I would have let him drive off and leave me up at Cedar Terrace

Half hour later, we drove around Cedar Terrace and asked the authorities, first respondents who were busy on their walky- talkies, what the prognosis was. They didn't  know.  We kept driving around, looked over at a relative calm ocean and decided we could go sit at Battle Rock at watch. Battle Rock park is on a bluff approximately 40-50 feet above the surf line.

Waves rolled on shore, then receded after ten minutes, a low and high tide in ten minutes intervals, with some waves cresting higher than normal.

All this time, I was doing much berating. If we just stood there, and a rush of water began to climb the hill, it would crumble right under us, taking us to sea and to sure death.  We were all fool on that hill.

 A police car was keeping people from driving down at the surf line.  Yes, in Oregon, one can drive on the beaches!

After 9:00 we left for Coos Bay, for lunch and a movie.  If major tsunami waves had landed on the west coast past 9:00 I would not be here writing this today.  The highway, Pacific Coast Highway 101 that runs up and down the US and Canada all the way down the Pacific Rim, that highway has many low points at which the ocean can bring much destruction.

What I fear the most is not our preparedness.  It is not even our ability to handle logistics and mobility. We all got out of our houses.  We all knew what to do, and we did it.

 What I fear the most is our human instinct to be witness to an event such as this.

28 comments:

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

You're right, Rosaria. I have a friend in Hilo, Hawaii who lived through both major tsunamis in 1946 and 1960. She has particularly vivid memories of the 1960 tsunami in the wake of the quake in Chile. She said that the vast majority of the people killed in Hilo had run down to the shoreline to watch the water recede and then rush in, not realizing the speed and power of the tsunami they then tried to outrun.

Brian Miller said...

yeah i hear you...its like a fire, everyone wants to go see what is happening...

NormalToEatPB said...

I for one am thoroughly grateful that you are still here!

Helen said...

I don't know if it made your newspapers ... a young man raised in Bend was swept out to sea where the Klamath River meets the Pacific .. tragic.

Terra said...

I relate to this post as I was awake all that night since we were under the tsunami warning too. I am glad your home was safe, as was ours. We did not need to evacuate; that would be very worrisome.

Eva Gallant said...

You're right! There's always the need to see what's happening. Some people do not heed the warnings of the authorities.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Just read your last two posts, very thought provoking Rosaria, how right you are humans are always so curious often putting themselves in danger because of this trait!

Michael Offutt said...

You know, you have a brain and can control your "instinct" as it were to gawk. I have no sympathy for that guy in California that died taking pictures of the tsunami. He knew it was coming in, was warned of it, and still he went down to the beach to take pictures. How dumb.

The Broad said...

Very thought-provoking post. I'm thinking about those events where I am tempted to take a chance and bear witness and those I would not -- fire does not tempt me at all -- but the sea might just -- a tornado would not, but thunder and lightening would ...

Cloudia said...

Most folks here behaved admirably!

Thanks for being my blog buddy :-)



Warm Aloha to you
from Honolulu!


Comfort Spiral

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quilterliz said...

G'day Rosaria. Glad you are safe and well. We are curious by nature and sometimes feel invincible,it's a shame we let that curiosity lead us into danger.

Suz said...

oh this was chilling Rosaria, so thankful that you were fine and that your town was spared
but those moments must have been sobering

Amanda said...

i was thinking about you, rosaria, when i heard about the tsunami warnings in oregon. so glad you are ok.

speaking of curiosity killing us, i heard someone was killed trying to watch the waves come in - was that near where you live?

Pseudo said...

When there is a fight at the high school, most students run to watch. The bigger the fight, the faster they run to it. One time it was a huge riot with another school. 200+. (outside of campus after school) A few students who were watching got hit with pipes. One had his leg broken. The kids would say, "but he was just watching."

Ocean Girl said...

I'm glad you are safe. I am impressed by the sheriff personally and insistently knocking on your door.

Hilary said...

That's so true. How many videos do you see online of folks recording approaching tornadoes? Curiosity has harmed many, I'm sure. I'm glad that you and yours are safe and sound.

yaya said...

We're heading into tornado weather and many do not heed the warning sirens...they stand out and look at the dark clouds and take videos...crazy! You cannot beat Mother Nature when she's got PMS! Glad you are safe and no major damage to the west coast folks.

#1Nana said...

I have nightmares of tsunamis. At the sound of an alarm I would be running for the nearest mountain...I'll watch from the top of the mountain!

Glad you and your home are okay.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Rosaria .. you make a good point, and the other thing is humans don't like to wait (unless it's idleness) ... so humans do something they know they shouldn't be doing and then 'pham' "it" comes .. too late then.

Just glad the tsunami didn't ricochet around the Pacific .. one of the questions I've got is why the Indonesian wave went so far .. yet the Japanese one was locally absolutely awful - 6 miles inland - but it didn't really move across the Pacific?

Look after yourself .. that coast is just amazing - I've only seen it from Vancouver Island .. Hilary

becky said...

So true...it's like the slow traffic that passes by an accident...everyone wants to know what happened and are so relieved it didn't happen to them!

Granny Annie said...

Practice makes perfect. That is what preparedness is all about:)

I_am_Tulsa said...

Thank you for staying on the safe side and please continue to do so! Those tsunamis are much much more faster than people imagine!

The Boat House said...

As Dr. McCoy mentioned, Ron and I also have friends from Hilo, not only did residents run out to pick up fish once, but even old-timers who knew better did it a second time, and then they were gone. There was enough damage along our US and Mexican coastlines as an aftermath of this tragedy, and even some deaths, to warrant awareness. We keep our home well supplied, but not our car, which might turn out to be our shelter on a hill. Glad you are safe, I know you are resilient, just don't go surfing as some did in this disaster.
Nancy at the Boat House in Birch Bay

Arkansas Patti said...

I am so glad your were spared the force if not the aggrivation.
I had no idea you were so close to the waters edge. That had to have been scary.

Maggie May said...

I for one, would not be sleeping if there was any chance of a tsunami. I would be away up a hill in plenty of time.
Glad you kept safe.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Marilynne said...

Yes, you must find a better place to view such events. You didn't know if the tsunami would be great or small. Perhaps another earthquake would topple your rock into the sea. You must do a better job of protecting yourself, even though you made out just fine this time.

RNSANE said...

I am only a couple of miles from the beach in Pacifica but I had no desire to go over to see what might happen. I had been in Santa Cruz the week before and had breakfast at a place near te marina where so many boats there were lost. The fury of a tsunami is nothing with which to mess around.

Suzanne said...

Glad it was a non-event for you. You sure do live right on the water. I grew up in Cocoa Beach, Florida, and tend to wonder if a tsunami could come there. If so, it would cover the whole city. There'd be no evacuating.