The American media has moved on from the news in Japan but across the ocean in California, we’re still listening and watching. As the rain pours with flood warnings, on most minds is “What if this happened here? Are we prepared?” The paranoid Californians are taking pills to alleviate radiation exposure. Most people I know are not paranoid but frightened. I’m not one to scare away from trouble, whether it’s wars or natural disasters but with a 3-year-old daughter and another on the way in six weeks, my fear radar has activated. I dreamt that I was floating away as my daughter Bonoo was trying to grab my hand and cried my name. I actually searched Google for the “safest cities against natural disasters” and found out that they were mostly in the Midwest, the last place I want to live. As my husband and I watched a sitcom on our laptop, he jolted when a door creaked outside. “Was it an earthquake?” he asked. I chuckled but stayed alert for the next hour in case it was.
When I’m awake, I rationalize the fact that Mother Nature will strike and life goes on. We can prepare for an earthquake but how do we prepare for a tsunami? The winds and waves will just decide our luck for survival. I do not doubt the debates about nuclear power, global warming and climate change being the root cause of the rising number of natural disasters, but they float around in my head weightless as Japan’s images of death and destruction bring me down. I’m also guilty of thinking that when natural disasters hit developing countries, the loss of life and destruction are no surprise but when Japan was struck, it showed that none of us are invincible. We can take precautions and do more to protect the environment. I immediately paid more attention to recycling, preserving more water and began explaining the importance of such things to my daughter. But I came back to the same conclusion: we can’t prepare for a tsunami. We could move to the Midwest, but I’d rather push aside my fear and enjoy the ocean waves right here in California.