I was born in Southern California and lived there until I was eight and a half. During my time there, I experienced several earthquakes, although none of them huge. I do remember one when I was about seven that was sizeable. It happened in the early morning, my parents were up, in the room my sister and I shared and out the back door (we lived in a very small house in those days) before the world had time to stop shaking. For me, the best part of that day was that school was cancelled, and I got to carry my earthquake kit around with me.
My earthquake kit was a small wicker basket with a battery operated radio, some band-aids and a couple fruit leathers in case I got hungry. We also had family sized earthquake kit that lived in a large plastic garbage can, bound with twine, in our side yard. My mom had set it up when I was about four and my sister was 1 and a half. It had canned food, diapers, some medical supplies and granola bars. It probably had other things in it, but they’ve escaped my memory. The reason I remember the items I do, is that we were constantly “borrowing” things from the kit. When my mom ran out of diapers for my sister, she would bend the plastic lid back and grab a few from the can. There were many times when my friends and I would pilfer the granola bars and other snacks from the bin while we were playing outside. Out of band-aids? Head for the earthquake kit. The kit became like an extension of the pantry, and was rarely replenished. Well, at the least the granola bars, my mom learned they didn’t last long in there. What wasn’t replenished often became obsolete (my sister was out of diapers relatively soon after the can’s creation)
I can still see and feel the can. The lid was tied down with green plastic twine, from a spool that my parents acquired before I was born. It was used to mark off the boundaries of the garden, wrap newspapers for recycling and often for my cat’s cradle string (it also made an appearance in a dream I had last night. My parents still have the spool, it never runs out). The can was brown plastic, the lid thin and pliable. There was a crack in the plastic from the constant bending back and forth.
I’m not entirely certain why this relatively minor experience from my childhood popped into my head recently, but I’m guessing it has been triggered by Katrina. My family was lucky, in the face of potential disaster, we took minor precautions that we never had to use. Sadly, it doesn’t always work that way.