Monday, December 27, 2004

Really, I'm still here - just was a little overwhelmed last week. Curt had his 2nd carpal tunnel surgery on Wednesday to his right hand so I had to not only take car of him while he was recovering but get ready for Christmas, also - mostly by myself. We were planning to have Grammama and Mom & her husband over for dinner at the same time. Since I'm normally totally spoiled with Curt doing the bulk of the housework, it was a little overwhelming. Mom did most of the cooking on Christmas Day, however so that was a bit of a relief. I still overdid it a little, however, and spent most of yesterday in bed and on the couch, resting my back and guzzling tons of water and popping echinacea to try to hold off the bug I could feel beginning to constrict the lymph glands in my throat.

It turned out to be a very nice Christmas - for us anyway. Not so lucky were the 22,000 + souls lost in the tsunamis in the Indian Ocean yesterday. Here on the West Coast of the grand old U.S. of A. we take our tsunami warning systems for granted. You see these little tsunami evacuation route signs all over the coast and can't help but think we overdo it a little. There hasn't been a tsunami warning that I know of in my lifetime.... but the system was put in place following the 1964 Alaskan earthquake and tsunamis that killed hundreds. Most of the damage and fatalities were confined to Alaska - only 4 lives were lost in Oregon but there was considerable property damage. Unlike the countries hit in the Indian Ocean yesterday, we are fortunate in the Northwest that most of our major population centers are located inland. Cities like Seattle, Tacoma, Portland - even Victoria and Vancouver B.C. are well protected from any tsunamis generated in the Pacific itself by islands or located far enough inland to not feel the effect. Californian cities like San Francisco, L.A. and San Diego however are probably at much higher risk - located as they are right on the Pacific.

The other advantage we have is a pretty well educated population. I don't think you'd ever hear something like this comment come from a resident of any coastal community on the West Coast: "No one ever told us that these things can be predicted and we can be told about them," said Sumana Gamage, a shopowner in Colombo, Sri Lanka. "Next time I hope our government can do this." If most folks here heard about a 9.0 earthquake in Japan or Alaska they'd immediately be on the lookout for a potential tsunami. The connection is just too well advertised. In fact, what would probably be a bigger issue would be rubberneckers from town hearing about it and heading *down* to the coast, camcorders in hand in hopes of watching one hit.

So sad that such a simple system could have saved so very many lives.

UPDATE: It's a sad day when the above noted Pacific monitoring system not only noted the Sumatra 9.0 quake, but also issued a tsunami alert long before the waves hit the Indian Ocean shores - correctly advising that it posed no threat to us. So we knew they were in trouble but without a comprehensive communications/alert system could do nothing to warn them?

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