It was a dark and stormy night, very humid, just as it had been first three months after the quake
‘heard round the world’ as they used to say. Those three months saw a lot of changes, and to be
clear, a lot less people because the quake was in November and you can’t grow a whole lot of food
those months in the Northern Hemisphere. The few who survived, our estimate less than a
percent, included a surprising number of Hams, in fact the first couple of weeks the bands were
crowded with a lot more activity than usual, everyone on solar power or generators. That subsided
too as food ran out, but we still had a lot of guys on various bands all over the place.
One guess was it measured an 11.3 on Richter, but no one really knew, and as the mountains in
Colorado were the only thing that stopped the ocean now, most of the earthquake experts were gone
along with everyone else in California. There were a few 6s on the bands, but they were the guys
with maritime stations on their pleasure boats.
The big problem right after that no one saw, was the worldwide intensity of the quake disrupting
every road, no way to get around anymore except by walking or on horseback. Thus, the guys who had
stockpiled food in addition to batteries and solar power were the only ones who survived except for
a few lucky ones or those in tropical areas like KH6. One of them said that if he had his way he’d
never eat a banana again, except it was still his main option.
The stories you heard on the radio, a few who actually saw it coming, like waves but earthen, not
liquid water, were astounding. One guy on a hill said he was out back admiring his 20M dipole and
happened to look up when he felt it, watching hundred foot high ‘waves’ of earth roll up a valley
leading to his house where it stopped, more or less. He was knocked to the ground and thrown back
and forth for awhile, but the itneresting part was his house, a regular stick built two story,
surviving in a recognizable shape. Destroyed certainly, and a total loss insurance wise, but he
was still living in it. Metal structures didn’t have the resiliency and of course all skyscrapers,
anything over 2 or 3 stories, were totally flattened.
It was as if the creator had decided to ‘start over’ everything you ever saw in a book gone
and no way to get there to see it anyway. One result was the 24 hr day changed. Not by much,
a few seconds, but it was permanent. We had a guy whose other hobby was astronomy, and our big
accomplishment, averaging the observations after 3 years, was to reprogram an HP Atomic clocks
that one guy had, to count a different number of oscillations to make up a second. Then we took
the ‘new standard’ 10 Meg output from the HP and put it on the air. No more 5, 10, 15, and 20,
just our one 10 Meg reference signal on the air, but with it everyone with a receiver can
find out the time. Worldwide. That’s useful.
We were no more fortunate in our area, identifying fewer than two dozen out of the nearly
two thousand guys in the area. Most of them lived on hills but there were a few with lower
QTHs. Interestingly, the two former Net Control stations for the Tuesday Disaster Prep Net
both survived, and of course had plenty of supplies through the first summer after. A report
relayed from South of town said there was a Colorado type mountain South toward Kansas City.
One of our group went over to the airport and found an undamaged Cessna 180 tail dragger
parked outside the hangars that first year. His previous flight experience was commercial
and all he knew was ‘pull back and the houses get smaller – push forward and they get bigger.’
Flying South, he got to 14,500 and said the mountain went up another 3 or 4,000 feet. That
also explained why we didn’t get anything, HF or VHF SSB from that area. He put the Cessna
down in a field not far from his house. You can land those things in less than 1,000 feet.
It’s still there. Got any hundred octane fuel you care to drag over ot his house?
– Rich WA0ZQG