A friend of mine recently sent a link that shows historical footage of San Francisco in 1906 just days before the major earthquake and fire. It was taken from a streetcar as it moved down the tracks toward the Ferry Building. Unfortunately, about the only thing that survived in that video is the Ferry Building because the rest burned to the ground in just a couple of days. Check out the link at http://www.flixxy.com/san-francisco-1905-historical-footage.htm I would make the link a hot button, but I'm working off of a Mac now instead of a Dell, and I haven't totally figured out which keys do the cut and paste.
As I view this video and watch the men in suits and the women in Victorian attire, I wonder what they were thinking and planning. Some may have been wishing those precious, last days of normal away by thinking, "I can't wait until three days from now when I get to go to such and such a party or event." Maybe they were thinking about the home improvement project they were going to do at home or were in the midst of accomplishing. Maybe one or two of them had planned a trip out of town and would unknowingly escape the pending horror and devastation. They had no idea of knowing that in just a few days an earthquake and fire would totally change their lives and the face of the city forever.
I grew up in tornado country (Western Kansas), and lived 12 years in the heart of tornado alley (Tulsa, OK). Tornadoes are natural disasters that I understand, and I have a certain comfort level with the threat possibility. Earthquakes, on the other hand, make me a little uneasy. So far, I have lived in San Francisco for nine months, and I have not felt an earthquake. One thing I have noticed is the beautiful, mild weather. We don't freeze in San Francisco, so we never have ice or snow. What they consider hail here is really just a light form of sleet. Most of the time rain is just rain, and it is never really accompanied by thunder or lightening. Unlike my previous residence, Portland, the sun shines here almost all of the time, and this is even supposed to be an El Nino year. So, on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis, the possibility of property damage or injury from a natural disaster is very low here. This can definitely lead to denial and a certain comfort with the thought that earthquakes really won't affect my life. This feeling is bolstered by the fact that I work with several people who have lived in the bay area all of their lives, and they have yet to be drastically affected by an earthquake. But, when it does happen, and the predication is that the big one will come in the next 20 years, the results can be catastrophic. Granted, a much stronger building code may make all the difference when the next big one hits.
I have decided that I will be the "Unsinkable Molly Brown" of San Francisco when the next big earthquake occurs. This is what I tell all of my friends, so it must make it true. :) I have my emergency provisions together, and my camping tent and equipment is in one big bag and ready to grab in the case of an emergency. If my building collapses, I fully intend to be standing on top of it when the dust clears. Morbid, but these are the thoughts I have as I continue to transition from living in tornado alley to residing in the middle of earthquake country.