>What to Do When the Earth Shakes?

>Shocking news from Haiti. Information on the death and destruction from this week’s massive earthquake is still coming in, and it looks very bad. This is where today’s media shine because we can know about such events minutes after they happen. For those of us who live in tsunami zones, it might save our lives.

Haiti is not the only place shaking. California has been rattled by numerous quakes over the last week.

As freelance writers, most of us living far away, what do we do? First, if we’re praying people, we should pray for all affected by this disaster. If you don’t pray, try a moment of silently sending good wishes. If we can help by donating time, goods or money, we need to do that, too. We are people first, writers second.

But we are writers. The immediate news is being covered by big-media staff. But look around your community. Are local agencies sending supplies? Are local people preparing to go help deal with the aftermath? Is someone from your area already there, or does a local family have connections in Haiti? If you can find people like this to interview, you have stories to write. Or you might want to offer a list of things people can do. In addition, you can explore the earthquake dangers in your own area and look at what would happen if such a quake hit there. Are people prepared? Are the buildings strong enough to remain standing?

Brainstorm on your own for more ideas. You can use the Internet as a starting point. But talk to people, too. Check with your local Red Cross and other assistance agencies. As they say on one of our Portland, OR TV stations, keep it “live and local.” That’s the key. Plus, do it quickly, before someone else fills the space.

And, from my California days, if the house starts shaking, duck and cover.