Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Experience with Natural Disasters

Fires, Earthquakes, Floods, and Tornadoes... Oh My!

Oh my! This opens up a whole list of events that I have lived through, witnessing up close and personal, as well as at a relative close distance.


Richter Scale Graft
Living in California, I have been through many earthquakes, of various magnitudes, ranging from barely noticeable, to at least two that practically threw me out of bed in the morning, as well as in broad daylight. I have gotten pretty good recognizing the magnitude as well as the distance and direction of the epicenter of quakes from my home. The valley in which I live is literally crisscrossed with fault lines. What people first thought were only dry gullies, have now been identified as actually being earthquake faults. These are literally everyplace in this area. There are many pieces of land that it is not permitted to build on, due to their being at least one fault line on the property.


a fact of life in
The whole state California is well known to be wildfire prone.  Living where I do, we get many wildfires each year, with hundreds more scattered throughout the state. I'm sure many of you have heard of the devastation wreaked on thousands of residents of several areas in California. We are affected to some extent, from hazy skies, to total blackout conditions, depending on out proximity to these fires.

My youngest daughter and my eldest niece and their families live at the base of the mountains that I have used in several photos I have posted online, and have on occasion had to evacuate due to the proximity of a nearby wildfire. My younger sister was a volunteer firefighter/paramedic for many years, and she has actually fought in many of the local wildfires. Now that she is no longer a "spring chicken" she assists people with evacuating their livestock when fires are approaching their property, transporting horses, llamas, cattle, and various other livestock to locations considered safer, where the animals will be kept, fed and watered, until it is safe to return home, that is unless the place may have been lost in the fire.

Once a fire that started in the San Diego are, about one hundred miles from our community, gathered such momentum, that it burned to within half a mile of my sister's property. While she was busily evacuating the horses that belonged to others in more immediate danger, my brother-in-law and I were loading things onto his truck, and getting their eight horses ready for evacuation. Fortunately, somehow, the winds suddenly died down, and the fire fighters were actually to stop the fires progression toward there place. We have had many friends also affected by wildfires in this locality. 

One older couple, whom we have known for more than fifteen years, own about ten acres, with several out building, such as barns, etc. Just a few years ago, they were evacuated, as the fire burned right up to the rear of their barn. They were not home at the time, so friends, all headed over, emptied the house and carted everything off to safety. The couple got home in time to see their loyal friends all lined up on their property, loading their belongings onto pickups, trailers, and even into horse trailers, to save everything possible, in the event the home were to be lost.

Thanks again to our wonderful, very experienced firefighters, the whole place was saved, and all the furniture, home and all out buildings on their property were saved.  There have been many deaths of firefighters who were caught in what is called a "fire storm," which is generated when the heat of the fire  become so intense, that it creates its own climate, and becomes much like a hot, burning tornado, overwhelming firefighters before they can escape.  Nowadays, it is standard that all firefighters have emergency blankets, which they can get under, for protection, and still have some air to breathe while the storm will hopefully pass on by.  Unfortunately, there are still deaths from time to time, when a firefighter may not even have time to get under his fire shield blanket.

Muddy Floodwaters
When I was about seven years-old, we lived in Albany, Georgia. We lived in a small apartment complex made up of about ten buildings consisting of duplexes, which were in a circular design. The one we lived in backed up to a wooded area, which was maybe fifteen feet above the Flint River. To get to the river, we descended a rather steep slope, which I really didn't realize at the time, would eventually be filled almost entirely with rainwater from a massive storm. When things were dry, we often went down to the water to play, and even fish. That time, we came very close to losing everything from the rushing water that had breached the banks and then some.  Again, when I was about nine, we lived in Texas.  There was what is known as a cloudburst, which is rain falling exponentially heavier than what most people will see in their live time.  We had such a rain that seemed to come out of a clear sky.  That was the first rain we saw in Texas.  The rain began falling, and the streets began to flood.  My mother, having never seen such a thing, out of concern for neighbors who were living a bit lower, and along the road, went out to see the flooding water, which was running like a fast moving river, taking everything in it's path.

Realizing she was not going to be able to help anyone, she turned to come back inside, only to discover that she was standing on the only dry patch of soil around.  The water had been coming from behind her, as there were some rather nondescript little hillocks on the property where we lived, and beyond.  Amazingly, no water came inside out home, and we were safe.


Destructive Funnel Cloud
When I was about sis years-old, we lived in a small southern Georgia town named Sumner. While living there, there was a tornado that ripped through the nearby town of Sylvester, that actually ripped grave markers out of the cemetery of one of the churches, and did extensive damage to the church building, as well. 

There was another one that came right into our area, on our road, actually. It ripped a huge oak tree right out of the ground on our next-door neighbor's property. When the tree fell, thankfully, it just missed their home, just knocking about three or four bricks from the chimney, and crushing two rocking chairs that had been sucked off their front porch. It was just amazing that they and their home were intact.

Well, that's my personal experience with various natural disasters. There have been more things, but they would not be considered as coming from nature.

No comments:

Post a Comment