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Jan, 2010

Amy Gets Emotional... and she wasn't even on the rag
I’m originally from the Midwest and people back there always ask me if I’m afraid of earthquakes living in Southern California. Honestly, I’m still more afraid of tornados and lutefisk, but I’m not made of stone…

Being a comedian, I fly the friendly skies for a living. This morning, on board my flight home to LAX, waiting for take-off, I decided to read my complimentary hotel copy of USA Today. The Haiti earthquake, of course, is still the biggest news story and while flipping and skimming through the articles and photos about the devastation and relief efforts, the mom in me just couldn’t be contained – I started to cry. It’s no fun crying in public, but it’s especially no fun crying on a plane. In the middle seat. Between two strange men. It’s down right embarrassing but I couldn’t stop myself.

I, like many self-absorbed Americans and busy single moms, don’t have nearly as much time as I would like to read and watch the news. While I had been hearing all about the earthquake through friends and news snippets, headlines here and there, the magnitude of the devastation didn’t fully hit me until I sat down with the paper today and really absorbed the figures and photos.

One of the poorest of all nations in the world, flattened by mother nature. The death toll keeps rising and we all know nature does not discriminate. Mothers, fathers, children, babies, dying and suffering and with the collapse of major infrastructure, many more will die. I can’t help but imagine my own child in these situations and reading article after article about the devastation in Haiti made me count my blessings. It also made me admit that I am completely unprepared for a large earthquake.

A little over a year ago we had a small, but slightly frightening, earthquake here in SoCal. I was living in Van Nuys at the time and it really shook my three story building. I had felt a few tiny quakes since coming to Los Angeles in 2001, but this was the first one that actually scared me. I yelled to my nanny, who was in the living room with my 1 year old daughter and this is the dialogue we had:

“It’s an earthquake and it’s kind of a big one!”

“What are we supposed to do?!” (she was from Kansas)

“Um… pick up the baby! Maybe we should put on our shoes?”

And then it was over. Fortunately, it wasn’t “the big one”, but do you think I’ve learned any more about earthquake preparedness since then? The truth is, a little, but not much. I did learn that you’re supposed to get under something sturdy, not stand in a doorway, don’t run outside – but that’s about it. Having grown up in Minnesota, I can tell you EXACTLY what to do during a tornado, but earthquakes are a mysterious beast to this Midwestern girl.

It’s so easy to put things off without daily reminders. As a single mom, it seems like I have a thousand other things more important to do each day. Much more important than assembling an emergency supply kit of things we will probably never use and devising and discussing a plan with my nanny and my ex. But the Haiti quake – the pictures of orphaned children, sobbing mothers, bodies in the street – made me realize that it IS important. Would I ever be able to forgive myself if my daughter or nanny was trapped in our house without at least a supply of clean water? If they were injured without basic first aid supplies? Never. Getting prepared is on my list of things to do tomorrow and if you’re not ready, then it should be on your to-do list too. I’m not an alarmist, but I am a realist. A procrastinating one, but a realist, nonetheless.

Every part of the country has it’s natural disasters – know your risks and the dos and don’ts for your region. For those of you in earthquake areas, FEMA and MyGreatHome.com are two very informative sites that can help you prepare and maybe even survive someday. Let’s hope we never need to use this information!

I always miss my little girl when I go away on work trips, but I have always been lucky enough to come home to a healthy child and a safe home. I hope she never has to experience the terror of a major natural disaster like the one in Haiti, but I can do my best to be prepared and help her through it in case she does. My heart goes out to all of the people affected by the Haiti earthquake and may those who perished rest in peace. Especially the children.

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