Apparently There Was an Earthquake...

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Valparaiso
is Chile’s largest and most famous beach town, only about a
2 hour drive from Santiago. It’s summertime here, so it looks
more like the south of France or coastal Spain than you would expect
of a relatively unknown place like Chile.

This is typically
the reaction I get when I talk to most people about Chile –
they know about the miners, and they know about the earthquake,
but their expectations are of some banana republic, not an exceedingly
civilized, almost European country.

On that note,
let’s move on to this week’s questions.

First, Nancy
asks, “Simon, what happened to the 7.0 earthquake in Chile
this week? What’s it like being in an earthquake region?”

To be honest,
I didn’t have the foggiest idea that we had an earthquake a
few days ago. It was fairly close, about 350 miles away, yet we
didn’t feel anything here in Santiago.

Every country
in the world has multiple elements of potential disaster –
hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, volcanoes, landslides,
floods, avalanches, blizzards, disease pandemics, etc.

It happens
everywhere, there’s no avoiding it. Some of the worst natural
disasters in history have been in places like Portugal, New Zealand,
Thailand, Alaska, Japan, US, Italy, Turkey, Mexico, Argentina, etc.

I’m not
trying to be nonchalant about such awesome forces of nature, but
have experienced several myself, the critical distinction is how
each place deals with its disasters.

Floridians,
for example, are so accustomed to hurricanes that they laugh off
anything below a Category 5 storm. In Texas, tornadoes are frequent
– in fact we had one when I was in Dallas a few months ago.
I watched it from my balcony, as did everyone else.

Similarly,
Chile has a geological predisposition to earthquakes; every couple
of decades, the country suffers a major earthquake in the 8s. Last
year’s 8.8 was brutal, though loss of life was “minor”
by comparison at 521 victims.

Hurricane Katrina,
by comparison, claimed nearly 2,000 lives, while the 7.0 Haiti in
2010 earthquake claimed 230,000.

The one that
occurred this week was a 7.1 on the Richter scale, stronger than
what destroyed Haiti last year… however there was barely any
damage in Chile this week because this country has incredibly strong
building code, construction quality, development planning, and response
teams.

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