“There is no water, there is no food, no shelter. There are thousands of people living in the field. The babies are crying because they have nothing.” (Christina Stewart, Canadian survivor of Haitian earthquake.
If you have lived in an active earthquake zone you will know the feeling that comes when an earthquake starts. First there is the pre-earthquake tremor. If you have experienced enough earthquakes you will recognize this early sign and will start to move into response mode before the earthquake starts. When the initial jolt of the earthquake comes you feel that control over your physical self is taken over by the strength of the earth moving side to side, up and down or in both directions. You brace for the worst – that the strong movement will increase to terrifying proportions – and you are happy when life returns to normal.
If you live in an earthquake zone like we do in British Columbia, you cannot look at a disaster like the earthquake aftermath in Haiti without thinking about your own situation. If we had such a strong earthquake here what would happen? Would we experience the same terrifying results? Would we struggle in the same way? Who would come to our aid? How long would it take? What would happen to our lives?
These thoughts about our own circumstances increase our empathy for people in other earthquake disaster zones. We cannot help but want to assist in some way. We also hope that if the tables were turned, we would receive help in kind. Such disasters are also a reminder to Lower Mainland families that earthquakes can cause devastating destruction and loss. As families and individuals we need to review our own disaster preparedness training and awareness.
- think about how you can reach out to survivors of earthquakes and natural disasters in other countries (with funds, helping aid organizations in person and prayers, if you are a spiritual person)
- take a first aid course to prepare for possible disasters
- take a Light Urban Search and Rescue course through your work, if possible. This type of course provides training so that you can help to clear a building that has collapsed
- check out the getprepared.gc.ca website for risk assessment, plan development and earthquake kit information
- develop an action plan as a family discussing what you would do if an earthquake struck during the work/school week
- acquaint yourself with emergency plans at the workplace and school
- create earthquake kits for each family member
- hold an earthquake drill practice with your children
- discuss what types of structures/areas are best for shelter during an earthquake
- if you have the opportunity, try out an earthquake simulator. It can be a challenge to even turn off the gas (as you need to do in Japan) before diving under a table
CBC news network has put together a list of organizations who were operating in Haiti before the earthquake and who are taking donations. They have also included the latest reports on this site page.