Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

August 28, 2011

Good day, Irene, for folks in Lockport

LOCKPORT — While taking a break on the only chair at Ottavino Park behind the Union-Sun’s East Avenue office Saturday afternoon, I thought about how lucky Lockport was to have that old sun shining down on it.

It was a good day, Irene. Off to the east, a big storm was rolling up the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, threatening lives and property. One million people were without power as the hurricane pounded the Mid-Atlantic.

At home, we expect salubrious weather for the next week. Last Tuesday we felt nary a ripple during the 5.8 earthquake shook folks from Florida to Montreal.

My son in Washington, D.C. thought the worst — a terrorist attack — while having lunch a block away from the White House. My sister-in-law in Frederick, Md. heard knickknacks jingle on the wall. My sister in Philadelphia said the room shook and it was pretty scary.

My publisher, at a meeting in Amherst, called to see if everything was OK at the office. If it weren’t for CNN, the staff on East Avenue wouldn’t know what she was talking about.

We felt nothing.

The closest connection I got was from Amber Lindke, former Miss Buffalo and Miss Niagara County. Amber, who works for WINK-TV  in Fort Myers, Fla. was home “vegging” on Canal Road and felt the couch move. “I was looking at work emails. They felt it even in Florida. It was funny. I actually did feel it.”

With one semester of geology at the University of Buffalo, I had a theory. Lockport sits on Lockport dolostone, a Silurian rock that contains the mineral dolomite.

It’s as hard as a rock and is responsible for the cliff we call Niagara Falls. At the Outwater Overlook, you can see the plain north of the Niagara Escarpment and catch a view Lake Ontario in the distance.

That dolomite keeps us from rocking, I said. Surprisingly, a geologist from Cornell University agreed that my theory was very interesting. Local geology does have an effect, he said. People on sand and sediments feel an earthquake more than folks on more coherent rocks. People in valleys are more likely to feel an earthquake than people in the hills.

Residents in California likely laughed at the East Coast reaction. “A 5.8 earthquake? We don’t even get out of bed for that,” said Rich Garcia. A native of the Golden State, Garcia is the assistant news editor who does the hired Lindke at Fort Myers.

We can relate to he message from Garcia. We laugh at Washington, D.C., sissies when they shut down the capital at the hint of snow. Two inches? Haw, haw.

As I wrote this, I wondered about relatives on the coast who were waiting for Irene. It was raining in Colonial Beach, Va. where my brother-in-law is pastor of a church. There was flooding and the power went out. Some people left town, but he felt safe and stayed, worrying about St. Elizabeth Parish. Perhaps 12 people attended the vigil Mass.

In Washington, D.C., my son got rain sooner than he expected. Ditto for my sister Philadelphia.

Mother Nature has a way of bringing us all together.

Contact reporter Bill Wolcott

at 439-9222, ext. 6246.

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