Not to double down on the doom and gloom or suggest the Americas are slated to descend into Mad Max-style chaos and anarchy, but the latest in a recent flurry of North American earthquakes just rumbled across one of the most dangerous earthquake zones in the United States.
The Coming Storm
Fellow New Yorkers, we’ve been through a lot. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Joe Biden explaining to Car and Driver that he has never actually washed a 1981 Trans Am shirtless in the White House driveway. And that’s just in the last two weeks.
The last ten years? We barely know where to start.
The Neverending Story
It’s started raining, and it’s not about to stop until Monday—Brooklyn is Portland!—thanks to the arrival of Hurricane Irene off the East Coast. Hopefully, like Tuesday’s Earthquake, New York won’t be getting it too bad, but just in case, the Bloomberg administration has been preparing the city for possible problems, the greatest of which would be flooding. The mayor’s office just released a map of hurricane zones, to keep New Yorkers aware of where things could be bad.
Not surprisingly, Battery Park City, the Lower East Side, Redhook and Coney Island are all flashpoints, but so too are large swathes of Staten Island and the Upper East Side. The mayor took time out to put the city’s mind at ease with a few jokes in today’s announcement of the preparations:
By all indications, the earthquake on Tuesday did no significant damage to any buildings in New York. That still did not keep the question from coming up at a tour of the soon-to-be-open World Trade Center site yesterday. Larry Silverstein quickly worked to put any concerns to rest.
Last night, on the passageway leading to the 1/2/3 train at the 42nd Street subway stop, a street preacher (usually the sort to offer vague prognostications) had already added the day’s news into his patter.
Is it just us, or do things seem a little shaky lately? And no, we’re not just talking about the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Virginia around 2 p.m. on Tuesday, sending out shock waves that gently rocked New York City and taught us that East Coast disaster response is largely limited to Tweeting ironically and wondering aloud if we should order in lunch. Toss in Hurricane Irene gaining on Florida’s shores, microscopic brain-eating amoebas lurking in our lakes and ponds (the Contagion marketing has really gotten out of hand, Warner Bros.) and Gerard Depardieu’s making headlines for using an aircraft cabin as a urinal, we’re pretty sure Harold Camping is kicking himself right about now.
Today’s 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook The Observer newsroom in Midtown Manhattan, but once it passed, our minds turned to finer things–contemporary art, namely, that fine and elegant mediator of trauma.
At left, a guide to the works through which we experienced, and are reflecting on, the tumult, from Doris Salcedo’s terrifying cracked floor at Tate Modern—a Read More
After the gentle swaying subsided and we emerged from stunned silence, we called William Melson, Senior Scientist Emeritus at the Division of Petrology and Volcanology at the Smithsonian. Mr. Melson lives in the Shenandoah Valley, but he spoke with us from Arlington.
The epicenter, he tells us, is a small Virginia hamlet named Louisa, but tremors were felt as far south as North Carolina and as far north as New York.
Here we were, sitting in our office, when we felt a gentle rocking. It stopped. Then we stared at each other.
“Was that just a…?!”
THE GREAT EARTHQUAKE OF 2011!
Here’s the USGS assessment.
From the Weston Observatory at the Boston College Department of Geology, USGS Outpost
Magnitude: 5.9 Read More