- There were not one but two sonic booms today over our area. I felt/heard the first boom and thought it was a small earthquake. I felt/heard the second and thought it could have been an explosion. I then saw fighter jets flying low over my house, way out of their normal flight path and said "WTF?" Definitely not something that happens around here. Ever.
- The news immediately reported that the 911 system in a city south of here was so overwhelmed with calls that it shut down. Seeing as how there was no immediate identifiable threat, it made me wonder what would have happened if this had been an actual emergency and people would have really needed to call for help. Obviously they wouldn't have been able to get through. Gives you an idea of what our infrastructure can handle...not much. Note that the center could receive cell calls but not landline calls...something to remember in the event of a disaster.
- My first response was to check and see what I could figure out on my own...people in house OK, check, house looks like it is still intact, check, look outside for signs of smoke or explosion, none. Good. If this had been a major chemical or nuclear disaster, we would have been toast. WTF. In a disaster, your immediate information is going to come from what you can figure out on your own.
- My second thought was to run through what the possibilities could be. Technically it could have been anything--an explosion, Obama was in town, we have natural gas pipelines which can an do explode on occasion, a crash (it would have had to be something bigger than a car to shake the ground like that), we do have nuclear subs in the area which is always a concern. It pays to know what your local community threat assessment is...if you don't have one you may want to conduct one yourself.
- My next choice to get a grip on the situation was to go online. I checked the local newspapers/news stations online and looked for what was trending in our area on Twitter. That immediately got me an answer. Then I sent a tweet (see box on the right).
- The news response had a slight lag as is to be expected but it was fairly responsive. If this had been a major disaster, the ability to find out what happened would have probably taken longer if it wasn't confined to a very small area.
- I thought about the things we would need to grab if we needed to evacuate. I thought about my BOB and realized I haven't looked at it/cleaned it out/restocked it in a while (another WTF moment). Did I have winter clothes or summer clothes in my BOB? It was nearly 90 degrees today and I could have had a BOB filled with cold weather clothing. Not good, need to correct this.
- I thought about evacuating as quickly as possible then (another WTF moment) figured it would have been nearly impossible judging by the massive traffic and backups on our freeways on Friday and Sunday evenings around here in the summer. Last Friday it took me over an hour to travel down a freeway that usually takes 20 minutes simply because of weekend/vacation/tourist traffic. The I imagined EVERYONE in the city trying to evacuate at the same time and it would have been a total cluster f%&*. Now I think I need my own personal helicopter if I seriously want to be able to evacuate quickly in a disaster because our roads simply aren't built for such a thing.
- I then thought about what could be the worst case scenario. Being a ways from the city, a bomb wouldn't be our biggest threat but living by the water in an area crawling with nuclear subs and a number of military bases which support such activity...now that would be a WCS. There is also the possibility of a train derailment/semi crash; these could be carrying poisonous chemicals...you get the idea.
- I found out that the fighter jets were scrambled from a base near Portland. They made it to Seattle in under 20 minutes. Wow.
- I was a bit concerned about a few people who were with/near Obama who was in town. Initial reports said the jets were scrambled in response to a threat to Obama although the threat was unspecified. It turned out to be a non-threat but when people are with the person with the biggest target on their back, they are automatically put into a more dangerous situation than usual.
- This was a test. This was only a test. I hope this situation made people think about preparedness. Nothing like fighter jets roaring over your head to make you think about how you would respond to a difficult/emergent/disaster-type situation.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
12 Things That Made Me Say WTF Today
It was an unusual but informative day today..