Non-fatal temblor a friendly reminder

Did you feel that?

Last week’s 4.8-magnitude earthquake that rattled walls and nerves throughout the Northeast was a reminder that — for all of our other climate-related and man-made headaches— it could be far worse.

And while there’s a natural temptation to laugh off the seismic threat – “Not now, tectonic plates…” – it’s just a scientific reality: Boston, New York City, and this whole region are ranked at “moderate” risk for serious earthquakes by the US Geologic Survey. So, even as we brace for the seas to slowly swallow up our waterfront community, it’d be a fool’s errand to wish away the risk of a damaging earth-shaking event.

In fact, as we reported the last time the floors wobbled locally and across the East Coast back in 2011, there’s an annual drill held here in the Northeast – and worldwide – that’s intended to raise awareness and preparedness. The “Great Northeast ShakeOut” as it’s called, is held each fall with this year’s date falling on 10/17 at 10:17 a.m. Everyone is encouraged to register and participate, but particularly businesses and schools, which can drill building occupants on what to do to survive a serious dirt-tremble.

The last “big one” in these parts was back in 1755, when a 6.0 magnitude quake off the coast of Cape Ann rocked settlements up and down the East Coast, including your hometown.

As BC professor and earthquake expert Alan Kafka told the Reporter back in 2011: “We know that magnitude 6 earthquakes can happen in the Boston area because it did in 1755. Therefore, we need to prepare for that possibility. It could be 20,000 years from now, or it could be tomorrow.”

No one died in the colonial-era quake, but many chimneys toppled and some roofs collapsed, many of them in parts of Boston that were built on “fill,” much like most of the present-day Back Bay and parts of Dorchester, including Columbia Point.

Last week’s earthquake could have been an aberration. But perhaps the wisest course is to interpret it as a warning shot. Mark your calendars for Oct. 17 and get prepared for how to survive and manage the aftermath of a Boston quake by going to

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