The “Big One.” Are We Prepared?


Picture by Sheehwa You

Major natural disasters have been occurring lately in many parts of the world. Whether the catastrophes are hurricanes on the East Coast or earthquakes in Mexico, each has been leaving destruction in its wake. Unfortunately, those disasters leave people with crumbling buildings or sometimes with no buildings at all. There is a high chance that California will experience those events as well, and it is just a matter of time.

For many years now, people have said that California is overdue for a large earthquake. With years of speculation and waiting, there has been plenty of time to prepare, fortify buildings, and procure supplies should that disaster strike. But, are we really ever completely prepared?  

Discussing the possibility of a major shake-up, Mrs. Bertell, who has experienced horrific earthquakes during her lifetime, answered, “We are never really truly prepared.” She explained that the building codes in California are usually designed so that buildings can withstand large earthquakes.  

However, as seen by the Northridge earthquake in 1994, some structures are not completely able to endure the stress. Multiple bridges on the freeway collapsed, causing many casualties, and despite the building codes, some buildings even collapsed in on themselves. Mrs. Bertell mentioned that “pieces had fallen in on a building” with people inside because of flaws in the building code, but the code “still saved lives.”

Should the event of an earthquake occur at our school, there are multiple safety precautions in place. As explained by Mr. Cassady, an “open space evacuation” would be ideal. The village is the safest location to be at in the school, since it is the location of the most open and flat space for an evacuation. During a natural disaster, students and teachers would “evacuate to an open space,” where teachers have an “evacuation sheet for accounting for all students.” There also would be signs for the classes to carry, making it easier to identify each class. Specifically for village, students and teachers would go to the “east side of the softball field.” Most importantly, it is essential to remain calm during these events.

The faculty is said to have a well-thought-out plan should the occurrence of an earthquake take place at school. Mr. Cassady explained that he has “full and complete confidence in the faculty” for the planning and execution of the planning. Mrs. Bertell mentioned that there are “storage areas on campus” for disasters as such.

Earthquakes are undoubtedly destructive and terrifying natural occurrences in the world. The recent clips and images of the damage done in Mexico can strike fear and create sympathy in anyone, as we naturally feel sympathy for the victims and want to reach out to them.  Mr. Cassady said that he “feels for Mexico,” as it is one of his “favorite foreign countries.”  California may have to deal with these types of events in time, and hopefully, our school is prepared when it strikes.