Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 12, 2010, 4:53 p.m. We were eating dinner when the earthquake struck. As Californians we knew the meaning of the distorted room with plates sliding from the table and pictures tumbling from the wall. We grabbed hands and ran outside. The building held, unlike many others nearby.

Once we realized we were uninjured I spent a moment, long and deep and dense and wide, taking in the fact that I was in a city unequipped to deal with this event. Port-au-Prince has no reliable municipal electricity, no primary health care, no potable piped-in water, no effective building code and no emergency response plan. I wondered whether I and my loved ones would survive.

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