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Our state is having a Great Shake Out where we all respond as if there were a catastrophic earth quake. It’s because we live above a “sleeping giant.” The Wasatch Fault has a major earthquake about every 350 years. The last one: 350 years ago.

As part of the drill, my neighborhood (as many have) were given information to read, a checklist to see how prepared we were and colored paper to put in our windows.

A red paper is for “We need help now.” I gather someone will be able to put a tourniquet on their wound, crawl through the debris, find the colored paper, some tape and put it in the window or on the door or the top of the ruble in case anyone missed that the house had come down.

Yellow—“We need help, but there’s no hurry.” For, I don’t know. Either you need help or you don’t, right? I guess if my electricity were out, I could get by for awhile on my own, but then, probably it would be a neighborhood or city problem that would get fixed when everyone else’s does. Since these colored papers are also for winter storms (our state’s #1 most likely catastrophe), could I put one up if I had the flu, but needed my drive-way shoveled? Maybe I’m missing the spirit of this event. Some day I’m going to wish I’d paid better attention.

Green—“We’re all good to go.” So not only would you be able to take care of your own needs and those of your family, but you are available to go help others. In a disaster like an earthquake, if cell towers are taken out, I suspect most people will be gathering in the streets to talk to each other anyway. And our biggest concerns would be for those who we are not able to contact. How could I put up a green sign when I don’t know how my family is?

Black—“There’s been a death.” This one chills me—visions of wagons passing through the Warsaw Ghetto to pick up the dead from the night before. Or the streets of London during the plague. How do people survive times like those and stay sane?

Thankfully this will just be a drill.

 But it has helped me realize that when life becomes fragile, our networks of family & friends strengthen. We recognize what really is important, and we want to gather them in tightly. Even without a disaster—today seems like a good time to call some people I love. Let them know that I value having them part of my life.

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