We have all been horrified at the consequences of the large earthquake that has devastated Haiti. The death toll just in that nation’s capital city has reached 150,000. No one knows how many died in the countryside. A poor nation to begin with, Haiti may now remain in a devastated condition with prolonged hardship for a very long time.

What if a major earthquake had struck a major American city instead of Haiti. What would the consequences have been not only for that city, but for you personally. It is true that American building codes would result in less damage to housing and buildings in an American city, but a truly large quake would still devastate any American city that experienced such an event. Let’s consider some of the effects that such a quake would have not only for the nation but also for your family regardless of where you live. We know the highest odds of a major quake are along the fault lines in California so such metro areas as Los Angeles and San Francisco are particularly vulnerable. However, the New Madrid, MO quake of long ago confirms that such metro areas as St. Louis and Memphis are also at risk.

Matthew 24:7 records Jesus Christ’s prophecy that “earthquakes in various places” will be one of the signs that his second coming is drawing near. Since earthquakes have always been a part of the human experience on this planet, this prophecy infers that an uptick in the frequency and intensity of those earthquakes were what Jesus Christ meant to convey. Prophecies in Isaiah 2:18-21, 24:1 and 18-20, Ezekiel 38:20, Revelation 11:13, 16:18 all indicate that unprecedentedly-large earthquakes and tectonic shakings will occur during the prophesied latter days. If you have any doubt that we are living in those days, please read the evidence presented in my article, Are We Living in the Biblical Latter Days?, available at the articles link of this website. Prophecies about earthquakes would include such tectonic events as great tsunamis (caused by earthquakes under the ocean) and volcanoes (which can be triggered by tectonic activity underneath a volcano).

Please consider what would happen if a major earthquake devastated a West-Coast American port city. You would be very mistaken if you think its effects would not detrimentally impact your life and comfort zone. The initial effects would include many deaths and injuries, widespread damage and chaos, looting and (most likely) the loss of all utility services in the affected metro area. The way our electric grids are interconnected, the sudden loss of the entire electrical grid in a large metro area might trigger electricity shutdowns in a much wider region than was directly affected by such a quake. The destruction of an entire city’s essential infrastructures would mean that it would take a very long time to restore even rudimentary city services. Much of the population in the metro area affected by the quake would have to migrate to live with friends and relatives in other cities. If your relatives and friends come to your house with little more than the clothes they are wearing, you may have houseguests for a long time. Christians should especially take note as they may need to host Christians who are destitute and traveling elsewhere to find any kind of shelter and food. Churches of all types may have to take in needy people regardless of denominational affiliations. Christ’s parable in Matthew 25:31-46 reveals that our Lord will be evaluating everyone’s readiness to help out fellow Christians in need (even those who are thought to be “the least” of his brethren).

Consider the economic and societal effects of such a major quake. If all railroad and most highway connections are broken and unusable and port facilities are destroyed or off-line because there is no electricity, it means all the food and goods that are in the port’s containerized ships and docking regions are going nowhere. Perishables would all rot without refrigeration. Most of those goods in the vast numbers of containers coming through West Coast ports are intended to reach store shelves in inland cities. Those goods won’t be coming to store shelves in your city for a very long time. Indeed, they may never come. Faced with such a disaster, FEMA and government agencies would surely confiscate all usable goods in the port facility to serve the needs of the local population devastated by the quake. Indeed, tens of thousands of semi-trucks all over the nation (carrying food, clothing, camping supplies, emergency building materials, cooking supplies, fuel, generators, etc.) would be redirected to the quake zone and their normal shipments would not reach your city. Food and bottled water would be in especially short supply. In a large region with no electricity to preserve food, hundreds of refrigerated trucks used on inland routes would likely be redirected by FEMA and other government agencies to stay in the earthquake zone indefinitely to provide food preservation services in the earthquake zone. Indeed, the need for food, water, blankets, etc. for the millions of people in a devastated metro area may be so great that FEMA and government agencies will need to seize items from grocery and hardware stores in many surrounding states to meet the need. For that reason, your local grocery store, secured by the police, may have to ration your food purchases even if you are far from the earthquake zone.

Whatever city is hit by a large earthquake, it means its banking services would come to a halt, postal deliveries would stop, phone services would be disabled, etc. This would have a profound effect on our national economy. With major banking and finance hubs down, many checks won’t clear, many credit card purchases won’t be processed, large stock brokerages will go off-line, many invoices and payments will never get delivered, ATMs will be useless (or looted), etc. This would cause major shocks to the national and global economy.

Remember how long it took for the federal government to mount any effective response to New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina flooded it? If you are in (or near) an earthquake zone, the Katrina precedent argues that you can expect to be “on your own” for a long time before help reaches you from the government. First responders will be overwhelmed and many would be dead or injured themselves in a major quake. Government services may be non-existent in an earthquake zone, and the normal “law and order” we take for granted will quickly disappear in the devastated area. Survivors (which will include prison inmates fleeing from damaged prisons and jails) who are hungry, thirsty and cold will not worry about what is “legal” as they seek to meet their urgent personal needs.

The Haiti earthquake ought to be a “wake up call” to Americans. The USA and Canada are large nations. Given Christ’s warning in Matthew 24:7 that earthquakes will strike “various places” around the earth, it is logical that it is only a matter of time till a major American city experiences the devastation now experienced in Haiti. Are you ready? When such a quake strikes, I hope that you and your family will already have made the emergency preparations that you can foresee as wise to make in advance of such an event. It is not a matter of “if” such an event will happen in the USA. The only question is “when” it will occur and “where” it will occur. For a biblically-based discussion of the types of preparations you should make for you and your family, I invite you to read my article Should Christians Prepare for Future Hard Times?, available at the articles link at this website. Most people will not make advance preparation and they will be caught unawares and unready for such a disaster. I hope that you will not be in that category of people.