Line up for your kids, folks, the big one's hit.
What a joke.
If what I witnessed at my kids' elementary school last Friday afternoon was even remotely representative of this government's concept of earthquake emergency preparedness, we're all screwed.
Behold, the spectacle. Classes were let out early to accommodate an earthquake drill. Apparently it was National Emergency Preparedness Week.
The children were sat down on the field, beside pylons I think, corralled inside an area cordoned off with tape. At one side of this, there were several folding tables, under some tents. School staff milled about in orange vests, while great long lineups of parents snaked out from these tables, waiting to pick up their children.
As I walked up to these lines, I spotted my boys in the section V to Z. "Hey guys," I called out, walking right by them. They looked bored.
Anyway, I joined the line. After about 20 minutes, it was my turn at the "Check In" table. After some fiddling through a files box, I was then directed to a second "Check Out" table where my boys and I were finally re-acquainted. They looked embarrassed.
I take some solace that my wife wasn't there. You see, when she was a young girl, she and her family lived in a tent for about a month after a massive earthquake hit Guatemala City in 1976, killing 23,000 people and injuring 76,000. And that was a 7.5. They're expecting a bigger one here, on the West Coast. I'm glad she didn't see this sorry thing they called a drill. It probably would have brought tears to her eyes.
Perhaps this plan looked fine on paper, making some deputy minister somewhere happy.
In reality, it was surreal. Honestly, cordons, tables, tents, files boxes and such? This is really going to happen, after the big one hits?
In a real earthquake, parents would grab their kids straight away, some probably yanking their youngsters away by the arm, as this shoddy excuse for a plan collapsed into chaos faster than you can say the word.
A cynic might well suspect the government just wants people to believe it's prepared for a major earthquake. Look, people, drills. Now sleep tight.
I don't know what's scarier - that scenario, or the possibility they really believe they're ready.
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