by Lisa Sorg
"The governor and I aren't even in the same party. If this turns out to be a false alarm, he'll make me out to be the biggest fool west of the Mississippi."— from Earthquake, a 1974 movie starring Charlton Heston.
With a 35 percent approval rating, Gov. Pat McCrory is on shaky ground. Could this be why he declared Oct. 17 Earthquake Preparedness Day?
Yes, with state agencies embroiled in pay scandals and administrative meltdowns, and North Carolina’s reputation as a social and financial backwater, McCrory is using his executive privilege to tell us to get ready for a … tremor?
Not to be outdone by the rest of the Southeast—we must be competitive with our neighbors—North Carolina is participating in the SouthEast ShakeOut.
Now, there have been earthquakes in North Carolina. The largest earthquake happened near the mountain town of Waynesville on February 21, 1916. It registered at a 5.2 magnitude. Tops of chimneys fell to the ground, windowpanes broke and people rushed into the streets, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The most recent tremor, measured at 2.9 magnitude, happened near Charlotte on March 21, 2011.
And McCrory may be on to something, since fracking has been linked to earthquakes in areas that otherwise have never experienced earth tremors. The controversial drilling method could begin in 2015, with the target areas in Chatham and Lee counties.
But if you ask the average North Carolinian—the working-poor who can’t get on Medicaid, the person whose unemployment benefits were cut, the family who can’t get food stamps because of glitches in the state’s computer system—not earthquakes, but the unnatural disaster of state government is a priority.
Yet in the spirit of fear, we have suggested some additional preparedness months:November: Pestilence