Chile Earthquake Powerfully Reminds Us We Are Vulnerable

04/29/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Last night's 8.8 earthquake in Chile was the fifth strongest ever recorded in modern times. While relief agencies and governments gear up to help those affected by the quake and resulting tsunami, Americans get yet another warning about our own vulnerability to a sudden quake and/or tidal wave.

Operation USA is a Los Angeles-based international disaster relief agency, and is typical of the many other agencies who do this type of work.

The first calm weekend after six weeks of intensive work on the Haiti quake saw staff dispersed in Haiti, Paris, Managua, Hong Kong, New York City, Joshua Tree or at home with family and friends. As word came in late at night, texts, emails and phone calls began to rally the team.

Now, 11 A.M. Saturday morning, Los Angeles time, computers and TV monitors are flashing news updates, partner agencies are being canvassed to see who has staff in Chile, needs are being assessed and off we are about to go again.

Those agencies not relying on US Government funding worry about "compassion fatigue" since we are barely past the 24/7 saturation coverage and outpouring of donations for Haiti.

Hoping as I write this that the tsunami warning is just that, a warning, it should give all of us pause.

Preparedness is not for squares, it's for smart people. A quick trip to the supermarket and hardware store to lay in three days of essentials should be a high priority...a small donation to your favorite relief agency would help them help Chile...and ultimately you.