Our local Katrina

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Blandon Road is one of many East Bay streets that cross the Hayward fault. It’s in East Oakland near Golf Club Road, in that peculiar valley where Arroyo Viejo stairsteps to the right on its way to the Bay. A couple years ago, the sidewalk looked like this. If I went back now—and I should—it might be offset a little more by the fault’s ongoing aseismic creep. It might even be repaved to mask its message. But the message can’t be hidden. In December 2007 the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economic impact of the Hayward fault’s “big one,” a magnitude-6.9 earthquake, could well exceed that of Hurricane Katrina.

Lately I’ve changed my lifestyle: paid off debt, reformed my diet, begun saving money and gotten ever more fit. Of course the clock matters, mortality is part of that. But the Hayward fault of Oakland insists that I act, too. It is a fact as stubborn as death, “sure as the most certain sure.” Living in Oakland, staying in Oakland may be foolish. The thought has occurred to me. But Oakland is going to have to force me out.

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