Elans ill prepared for quake

By Augustine Ugalde

The devastating news coming from Japan following the colossal 9.0 earthquake suffered March 10 can only be described as shocking and horrific.

We have all seen the devastating videos and news reports chronicling the utter despair the Japanese people have endured during the past week.

By some reports, the earthquake suffered in Northern Japan was more than 3,000 times more intense than the Northridge quake of 1994.

It is almost incomprehensible to think of a quake that carries that much more power and intensity than the most devastating local quake in recent memory.

Numerous East Los Angeles College students who were either born or emigrated from Japan deserve our empathy in this time of grief and need.

It is time that we all, as thinking, feeling human beings, reach out to the people of Japan and their American relatives, to help ease their pain through these toughest of times.

Rescue and aid efforts are being mobilized by the United States and other countries, and volunteers are badly needed.

This is a time for action, and what better way is there to help than joining one of these efforts or making a monetary donation to organizations like the Red Cross?

It makes little sense to reiterate the details of what has occurred during these grim past days, but to be sure, the events of the past week cannot be discounted as “something that is happening in another part of the world.”

For anyone who has spent any part of their lives living in Southern California, the prospect of experiencing an overwhelming and destructive earthquake is not out of the realm of possibility.

We all know that at any moment, our lives can change dramatically in an instant thanks to the power of nature.

Whether we are prepared for this eventuality or not, it will happen.

This is not a commentary suggesting that we all must go out and purchase six to eight weeks of food, water and other non-perishables, or to build emergency shelters in our backyards to prepare for disaster.

The people of the United States have convinced themselves that no harm will ever come to them and that devastating events such as the one that occurred in Japan this week will never happen.

We have constructed this very real cocoon that supposedly shields and protects us should we ever be in need.

Very few of us will go out and buy provisions that will sustain us when the next big quake hits Los Angeles, yet most of the people of Japan thought the very same thing.

The very worst part of this may still yet to come as reports coming from the beleaguered country say that the nuclear power plant in Sendai may become Japan’s Chernobyl.

Let us all reach-out and help the people of Japan and their families in the United States in the manner that has defined us as a country that comes to the aid of victims in their moment of need.

If this problem still seems of no concern, consider that we share the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of high seismic and volcanic activity, with our neighbors in Japan and that the San Onofre Nuclear power plant is just an hour from Los Angeles.

Los Angeles has suffered two great quakes in the past 40 years– the Sylmar quake of 1971 and, 23 years later, the Northridge quake.

Although neither was as powerful as Japan’s, they remind us that our world can change in minutes.

Let these great quakes and the current crisis in Japan serve as reminders of how vulnerable and fragile our lives are.


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