I just read an updated report on MSN about Haiti and the earthquake. Sounds like they were able to get the airport to a point where planes can fly in and out, so that's good.
But then I read that the Prime Minister is guessing at a death toll of 500,000 right now. Which is just so ridiculously sad, it's made me numb to think about it. And I don't even KNOW anyone in Haiti/of Haitian descent!
I "survived" the Northridge Earthquake in 1994 while living in Malibu, CA. I had driven home from my boyfriend's house at about 2 or 2:30 a.m., and remember looking out over the valley as I drove from Pasadena over the hill into Burbank and thought about how peaceful it all looked at that hour. Little did I know what kind of mayhem would rock that peaceful valley just a couple of short hours later, pinning me to my college campus for the next several days, two of which were without any power.
It was "just" a 6.7, although for a short time there was speculation that it had been stronger than that...I think initial reports were putting it at a 7.2, if I recall correctly. (Some of us gathered around our cars to listen to news reports on our car radios, instead of staying inside the building and listening to the reports on our steroes. It was the only time I've ever been afraid to be inside after an earthquake happened. Maybe because it was the first time I was forced to be an adult in a disasterous situation like that...I dunno. Growing up, mom and dad always just went to bed again after an earthquake - hell, dad often didn't even wake up for them in the first place! Earthquakes were evil like that - striking at night when we were trying to sleep, and forcing us to try to go back to bed with a racing heart and a scared brain.) The damage that occurred with it being just a 6.7 was horrendous enough, IMO. If it had been a 7.2, the damage might have been catastrophically different, in retrospect. Each point on the richter scale represents a significant difference as the numbers go up. I remember learning about it when I took a geology course in college, and thinking, "Damn. No wonder everyone is so worried about the Big One hitting!" It's hard for me to understand the science of it all, but if you're into that sort of thing, this wikipedia article seems to hit the major points.
And for those of you in the midwest thinking that people who choose to live in California are shmucks for living under the possible threat that the San Andreas and Whittier faults pose to them, you might wanna do some research on the New Madrid fault. Learn yourself a bit. Oh, and I'm a fan of the technique where you get next to a sturdy object to duck and cover should you be inside when an earthquake hits, instead of under it. Studies have shown that it's more likely that a table or bed will collapse on top of you when debris falls on it, thereby crushing everything under it. If you're next to the table or bed or couch, there's more of a chance that you will remain in a pocket of space/air that naturally occurs in such a situation. True, there's also the chance that you'll get crushed by whatever is falling from above you...but just try to get next to the couch that isn't underneath a cast iron tub, or whatever, and you should be able to crawl out in tact.
My heart goes out to the Haitians. I hope that anyone who has family or friends there are doing ok right now...you're definitely in everyone's thoughts, if that helps in any small way!