Hey-hey-hey and welcome to the BigAppleSchool podcast – the weekly English show where we speak about everything under the sun. The major goal of this show is to help you improve your English and of course learn something new. My name’s Katya, I’m your host, and today with me…
So, dear listeners, first of all, I would really love to thank you for all the comments we get, for all the discussions we make on Vk, it’s really fun. For recommendations…
What do you mean does that happen? Don’t you check our Vk page?
I do not. Should I check it? Is there even a Vk page? See.
Outrageous! Of course you should! That’s how I got recommendations about cartoons after the cartoon episode.
Yeah somehow we completely forgot about one of the cartoon and I was like oh my god, that’s so true, we forgot about that. So yeah, thank you for all that. Yeah, even, you know, there have been a situation which I don’t think we’ve mentioned, but one of our listeners actually while travelling came to Novosibirsk to say hi! So.
Yeah. So I know you’ll be listening to this, so hello! So yeah. If you haven’t yet, please subscribe to our pages on Vk, Yandex, Google or any platform where you listen to our podcast and let us know what you think about our show. You can give us stars, leave comments, so everyone but Gary will definitely reply and have a conversation with you.
You can ask questions, which actually happens more on Instagram, so I sometimes get questions on my Instagram asking like what does that mean? Or what is that? So, thank you for that, it’s really sweet.
And you can even send your ideas about next episodes, so what do you want us to talk about? We’re always open to new ideas. So and we are here today to talk about a very serious topic actually, which is natural disasters.
And I’m, like, reading the room over here. Like, how is everyone feeling? So first of all, what is a natural disaster? So, what kind of things are we going to talk about today? What kind of disasters are these?
So anything that’s not man-made, so for instance volcanoes, meteorites, tsunamis, fires. Well, not all kinds of fires.
Well, fires it’s… Yeah. Oh, volcanoes! That’s actually a good one!
Tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes. Bush fires of course.
There are so many horrible things that can happen. Kinda makes you think huh, that’s good I live in Siberia where nothing really happens. So and tell me, have you ever had any kind of experiences with natural disasters? Were you unfortunate to?
Of course I have, I have experienced one, a serious one. I actually should… I’d like to begin with a common natural disaster, the one that Ben has already mentioned. And I have experienced an earthquake in 1988 in Armenia.
Yes, it was a serious one. I was a 8 years old girl. I was waiting with my brother, waiting outside for my mom to take us to school.
And it was a wedding day. Oh.
Yeah, it was just Wednesday. We were waiting for her outside, she was putting her coat and her boots to come out and to take us. Suddenly there was just a… I don’t know, it was a hurricane or something like that, I was a girl, I was a little girl, so… And I could see buildings were folding like a house of cards.
There was a huge dust in the air.
So I couldn’t imagine what was that, what’s going on here? Oh, come on, we were crying and shouting and going back into the entrance to the second floor to my mom to help us. We didn’t know what to do. She was shouting us, go back, run away!
So it’s not the place to be here, so you should be at a safe place. But we didn’t want to listen to her, we wanted to be with her. And we ran to her. She took us in the steel frame of the door, we were standing there for a couple of minutes and we stood there after after shocks as well. There were dozens of aftershocks as well.
After we took some documents, some money and of course ran away. And we could see no buildings were standing except our entrance, can you imagine? Our building was the long one with six entrances, but our entrance was the one that was standing. And it was a miracle I guess. So I’m here with you today because of this miracle.
It’s amazing, I never really thought of Armenia as a main place… As a place with…
Wait, but earthquakes happen very often there, right?
Very often, right, very often.
Well I guess you have the Caucasus mountains, don’t you?
Yes, of course, because of these mountains.
Inga, I have a question. Wait, where was it? Cause I thought it was in a place called… Something like Spitak?
Yeah, the epicenter was in town Spitak, but many cities just…
And you are from Gyumri, right?
Yes, my Gyumri was also… just collapsed. Spitak was leveled to the ground in 30 seconds. We had a lot of victims, a lot of children left homeless and people didn’t know where to live, they were standing, living, sleeping outside, just making a fire, sitting around and just living there. Then came rescuers of course, thanks, of course, these people of Soviet union, former Soviet union, European countries, the USA.
Well I guess in situations like that, you know, all the countries unite to help.
Yes, united, they helped us, they came. Just, they brought excavating equipment, food, first aid, fuel, a lot of things. And they brought dogs, special dogs to sniff and find people under the ruins. And of course they…
A lot of just European and the US doctors, they just presented second life to people, disabled people, giving them prosthetic appliances. A lot of people, people from Russia, people from the USA and other countries as well, adopted homeless and orphaned children, whose parents died. It was just…
How long did that last? I mean, cause I can’t even think of like an earthquake, how long does it usually take?
It was a really powerful magnitude 9.
Wait, out of? There are only like 10, 9 actually?
No, 10. So it was really powerful. And there were a lot of aftershocks after this day. And of course thanks to rescuers to come and help us. And nowadays we have special districts in the cities, in the city Spitak, Vanadzor and Gyumri, we have special districts that people, just American people, just English, from Britain, right, Italians, came and constructed buildings, hospitals, schools.
And we have just separate… Just Russian district, English district, Australian district. Yes.
I guess there’s no high-rise buildings in Armenia.
Not high-rise, but the highest one was 10 floors.
So I had a practice to work in a school named after Lord Byron because English people constructed it.
Oh, oh wow. Yeah I know that there are movies about this earthquake, I know that there are… Yeah, there are movies.
There are movies, right. The last one, the newest one I can say that I saw was movie of Sarik Andreasyan. The Earthquake. It was really a realistic one.
Yeah I know that people who actually have experienced it and, you know, they all say that it’s a great movie and there’s no…. You know, no imagination, like you know, nothing that was lied about, nothing that was sugarcoated.
Yeah but I would… I think I tried to watch this movie, but you know, I cried my eyes out, I’m like I’m not ready to finish it, it was just too difficult. So I cannot imagine what it was like for people.
And I remember reding about it and I think it’s about 60 thousand people who died in that earthquake.
25 thousand. 25 only in Gyumri.
Wow. And there have been several cities that have been affected.
I remember also reading that there is, not in the town of Spitak, somewhere not far there is a nuclear plant, and when the earthquake was happening, they were afraid that there might be, you know, another, this nuclear catastrophe.
And people were definitely, you know, scared of that, after, you know, cause after 1986 when Chernobyl just exploded. Luckily though, so nothing happened to it and after that for 4 years after that, it only worked at a very limited capacity cause they were afraid there might be some kind of, you know, consequences after the earthquake.
So I think it’s… Well, it may sound weird in this situation, but, you know, it’s a good thing at least that at least this nuclear plant stayed. It’s kind of…
Yes it was near the capital, Yerevan, so when it started, it was okay, nothing happened to this city. And it was near the capital, so that’s why nothing happened to it.
Yeah, just speaking about it I’m feeling the same…
Of course, of course. Well that’s good that you don’t have any kind of, you know, PTSD, cause, you know, that’s quite a traumatic experience I would believe. And also, let’s okay.. Well, no, first I’m gonna ask about your experience and then we’re gonna talk in more detail about earthquakes in general.
Yeah, I did not have an experience, but my mother did.
With what natural disaster?
Hurricane. My mother lives in…
South Florida, yeah, Southwest of Florida.
Yeah. And this was 2017 which was 4 years ago. My mother was, still alive thankfully, and she was 89 years old and about to turn 90. And I’m watching this whole thing, and we’re watching this whole thing, cause the difference between a hurricane and an earthquake and a lot of these other things is that you’ve got days of warning.
Cause they really track it and it’s very… They can’t exactly predict where, what it’s finally going to do cause it adjusts. I mean they’ve got satellites on this thing cause it‘s just, I mean, it’s the kinda thing, you can do that.
So I’m watching this and my mother and everybody, Florida’s watching it and, you know, the East coast and the United states is watching it. And it was supposed to go up the east coast, which would be Miami and so forth. I don’t wish this on any area, but it shifted like a couple of days before to the West coast and it was going right in where my mother lives.
And this was like 2 days before it was gonna make landfall and they’re adjusting this and I mean this is like ground zero. I’ve got screenshots of the predicted course and the wind speed, 130 km/hour. It was a category 5. And it was a category 5. And it did hit dead on to where she was.
Isn’t that like a 2 hour drive from Miami?
Yeah, it’s across, the Everglades across the bottom of Florida.
Yeah I’ve been to Naples, it’s a very nice place for old people.
Yeah, it is. And she’s an old people, so it’s very nice. And so I’m watching this and what you do on a hurricane, to deal with it, it is you get out of there, because you’ve got time. And so what you do is you get in your car and you take your documents, your important documents and whatever else that’s extremely important to you.
You shut everything down behind you. And you get in your car and you get on this interstates which are then parking lots. Because everybody’s doing the same thing at the same time. I mean you’ve got literally millions of people doing this. And so I’m watching this and I am not liking the idea of my mother staying there, you know.
Cause unlike the Midwest and other parts, you can’t really have… You don’t have basements in Florida, right?
No, there’s no basements.
Cause… So you can’t have any kind of a shelter like that.
No, there’s no shelter. I mean the buildings are actually built to be hurricane-proof. But the problem is the aftermath, you know, if it… And you don’t have electricity which they didn’t for 2 weeks and then you get into all kinds of sanitary hygienic messes and trauma. Trauma, you know, just sitting there.
So my mother had the choice and of, well, what do you do? And she had already sort of told them that she would leave. And so she had to go through all of the stress of, you know, trying to shut things down and we didn’t know how to do that. You know, and I’m trying to work with them on the phone, and she’s got her cell phone, you know.
Of course, everything’s up and working. And so she gets in her car finally, this was on Wednesday. Landfall was supposed to be Saturday. She gets in her car on Wednesday. She’s so stressed out and just tired that she gets on the highway and she falls asleep at the wheel.
And, you know, they’re moving at just a couple of kilometers an hour, you know, it’s not moving, its’ not like it’s… But she hits the car in front of her.
So she rear ends the car.
She rear ends the car in front of her. And this turns into this incredible story of my… I had already bought tickets to visit her, having no idea, you know, these things come happen, you know, when they happen. So I had already bought tickets to come and visit at this point. The ticket’s in my hand, I knew that I was coming, right?
And the whole thing, and all of this happening as I’m getting ready to go there. And not that that matters, but anyways. So she falls asleep, she hits the car, of course it’s a traffic instant. They go to the side. And the woman, actually, it was a… It was a woman and her nephew and I mean my mother is stuck. You got a 90-year-old woman on this highway with a hurricane coming.
So these were really great people, they just said well, you’re gonna come with us, you’re gonna go where we’re going. And so these lovely people proceed to take my mother to where they were going which was about 400 km North. And she… They finally get there and it’s a complete ordeal, you know, very long trip to get there and all of this stuff.
But they finally get there. And so my mother is staying with these complete strangers, right, they’re from the same area where my mother lives, right. But they’re going to get out of there to go North, which is what you do.
Because it’s gonna up the coast and as the hurricane goes across land, it loses force. Right, it gains force over the water, loses force on land. So it’s gonna… So by the time it gets up there, it’s gonna be okay, you know.
So my mother ends up in these people’s house, the electricity… The storm then does hit on that Sunday and I guess it may landfall on Sunday and it goes up the coast, it takes out the entire electrical grid of the Southern part of the state including where she is 400km North, right.
So she’s in this house with these strangers, no electricity, right. There is a curfew, meaning you can’t freely go around. There’s gasoline rationing, right, because you can’t bring trucks in.
Well kinda like there is now where everyone is rushing to fill up plastic bags.
Right, right, like you saw that somewhere. Nobody was doing that then, I think people were more.. Were smarter then, people got stupid, more stupid over the last 4 years. But anyway, so she ended up there and of course she doesn’t want to be there. Because she’s…
For one thing, it’s, you know, she’s gotta take her medicine. The lady really helps her, she’s gotta get her prescription filled, you know, take her medicine and all that stuff. The lady helps her with everything, but my mother wants to get out of there.
So she rents a car, she’s 90 years old, she rents a car and she’s gotta drive somewhere else to get a motel room. She doesn’t make a reservation. I said, you know, you need to make a reservation before you do this.
She doesn’t make a reservation, she proceeds to… This is too long, but anyway, so she proceeds to drive, she makes a wrong turn. Right, she’s trying to go to, she’s trying to go to one place, she ends up another. She ends up right near Disneyworld, which is a major gigantic…
Yeah in Orlando, yeah. This whole place was like somewhere north of Orlando. She was gonna come south and whatever the thing was. Anyway, so she ended up in her car overnight and I’m talking to her in the car, you know, she’s got her cell phone.
Yeah, 90 years old and she’s trying to deal with this whole thing and she’s doing fine and I’m trying to figure out where she is because she doesn’t know where she is. She’s just in a parking lot of, you know, some standard place which there is 2 million in the United States that are almost identical. And she’s telling me where this is, so I look it on the map where I think it is.
It isn’t there. It’s somewhere else completely. Anyway, she ends up in a motel for several days and until… It was 2 weeks before they got electricity on and she could go back because it was a direct hit on Naples. And then it just went North and took a lot out in its way.
Anyways, I think it was actually the right thing for her to do because where she lives… I mean if you could… I mean if you actually had to stay where you live, she, you know, no. But there is a place there where that’s a medical facility where she lives, it’s a community and she could’ve gone there.
But even they’ve got generators and, you know, gasoline, you know, generators and the whole thing. They were at a point where they just had electricity, no air conditioning, you know, and so on and so forth. So that would’ve been extremely stressful also. So I don’t know if that was the right decision. You don’t… I mean…
Well she survived it, so you know.
She survived it, thankfully. But, you know, anyway, with the hurricane, you got time. But it’s complicated if you’re 90 years old.
I remember visiting Naples in May 2018.
What were you… Ah, yeah, it really did a number on Naples, Naples was… That storm wiped out the… You know it’s a lot of artificial… It’s like Dubai, you know, with a lot of artificial…
I just had a thought – like, how does one get home insurance in Florida? Is it possible to…
Oh it must be really expensive.
You have to actually buy insurance and it’s extremely expensive because every time you buy it and they have another event…
I think that’s the case in a lot of states in the US then, the ones that are, you know, prone to having hurricanes.
Yeah. It’s… Flooding is more of a problem. Flooding has a federal program for it. And then the people go back and they build in the same place where they had a flood, which is incredibly stupid, but that’s another…
Well I guess the program, is it called the Natural Disaster Relief Act of something like that? Something like that.
It sounds like a good name for a program, yeah.
If we don’t have a program like that, we sure should have one. Right, yes. Another great idea from BigApple Podcast.
Speaking of Irma. I remember that we were planning to go to Key West from Naples.
What were you doing in Naples? Do you know somebody there or what?
Yeah it was my friend’s parents…
Grandmother! Grandma lived in Naples!
They are, you know, my friend’s parents, they are retired, so half a year they live in Florida. Well, the bigger half of a year they live in Florida for tax reasons, and then the other half they live in Boston. So and they invited me to…
I understand, that was part of the attraction.
So and they have a nice condo there, so and they invited me and I said well, let me check how much the tickets are and they’re like oh we’ve already bought you tickets. I’m like oh I’m going, I am definitely going then. Yeah. So and we were planning on going to Key West which is very south.
And they have a fantastic road, you know, on the south where you have ocean on both sides. Well, it’s not ocean, it’s the Gulf of Mexico I think.
Well on one side it’s the ocean, and the other side… I worked in the middle of the Keys for…
So and I saw the pictures and I was like oh it’s gonna be fantastic. But because of Irma most of the road was just destroyed, so we had to take a ship, so we went by ship. So cause it was May 2018. And I think only 2019 it was back to, you know, full service. So you could just use the road again.
So yeah. Ben, have you ever experienced any kind of a natural disaster?
Well, yeah, actually, when I was living in Vegas, I experienced…
That’s more of a man-made technically, that’s a man-made disaster.
Exactly. But it wasn’t as bad as Inga’s experience, but it was nowhere near as bad as Inga’s experience. I was working in a hotel there and all of a sudden there was this earthquake and I was working in a hotel which had 20 floors. Well, 19, because they don’t have the number 13 in American buildings.
Not to be superstitious about anything, right. Very modern and scientific.
All of a sudden… At the hotel reception all of a sudden all of these phones started ringing and everything was shaking and people’s things were strewn everywhere on the top floors. The bottom floors were not so badly affected by the earthquake, it was more for higher up floors. And mirrors fell off the walls and lamps came off the desk. It was pretty cool.
Benjamin, was that an adventure?
It was quite an adventure.
I hope you don’t hold a grudge for me for all the joking about this adventure stuff. But wait, when was it? What year?
No no no. Yeah, a couple of weeks after, there was another little earthquake and I was in bed and I saw the pots and pans swaying in my kitchen. It as pretty cool.
I didn’t know they have earthquakes in Las Vegas.
Yeah they have quite a few, I mean it’s not far from Los Angeles, they have these… Not category 9, but… But they’re still quite a cool experience. In England apparently there are some minor earthquakes.
It makes the headlines but it’s not really anything big.
I would think of something like floods, you know, heatwaves maybe in England.
Floods, floods are big in England, yeah, especially around Gloucestershire. But the earthquakes are basically like your phone vibrating. It’s not really anything too big. But most recent disaster I’d have to say is… I opened, well, I left my windows open at night and recently we had all this fluff around Novosibirsk.
So I had fluff all over my apartment, so that’s a natural disaster and it prompted me to buy a vacuum cleaner.
Oh wow! Can you imagine that?
See that’s how capitalism works.
Just release fluff into the air and the vacuum cleaner industry.
Exactly. Apparently the word for the fluff in English is called poplar. I had no idea about this until recently.
I thought that poplar is the type of a tree.
It’s the tree, but I think it’s the fluff as well.
I guess it’s poplar fluff, yeah.
So I only learned this this year. So p-o-p-l…
Technically… I know that a lot of people are allergic to it, but did you know that technically you can’t be allergic to fluff itself, it’s just the dust that it gathers.
Yeah what happens, I don’t remember when I Frist encountered the fluff, so called fluff, I thought that the way that you handle this is you open your windows wide to, you know, increase the ventilation. I don’t know what I was thinking. I’d probably was not thinking.
And that was the problem. And then I ended up with this horrendous, not horrendous, but really bad cough. Because I was sitting there, you know, the remedy was worse than I…. It was worsening it with every evening, you know. And so don’t breathe it in. You just wanna minimize the… I don’t have to tell you that.
But of course our listeners, they may not have poplar fluff, right.
Lucky they if they don’t!
Well I guess poplar is pretty common throughout Russia, isn’t it? It’s quite…
It’s pretty popular. Poplar is pretty popular. See what I’m doing?
Wowzies! Right. Okay. I was thinking of that but I said nah, not gonna do that.
Is it too bad of a pun for you?
It was too bad of a pun for me. But I enjoyed it.
As long as it’s not on my conscious, I can enjoy it.
I think I’ve been lucky maybe, cause you know, growing up in Yakutia, then moving to Siberia, and not many natural disasters actually happen in these… Well, okay, in these parts… Well there haven’t been many natural disasters while I was living in these parts cause, let’s say, in Yakutia, when I was living there what you have every single year, nearly every single year, is forest fires.
But while I was living there it was never as bad as it was this year. Cause it was just horrible. It’s hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest just burned.
And the thing is that the government is saying that they’re not going to put it down, cause it’s not, you know, profitable. So it’s cheaper for them to just let everything burn down, what is burning right now, than to put it down.
I think it’s what you’re supposed to do, just let them burn. I mean, Yellowstone, right, I think I may have mentioned it, Yellowstone national park in the United States, very beautiful park. When I went there, this was in the early 90s…
Wait, is that on fire right now?
Not right now, but it had been on fire. So I’m driving through this, you know, beautiful area and a lot of places was completely burned down.
The reason I ask that is that today I saw a picture that, as of this day, and today, Salt Lake City has the worst air quality in the world.
Yeah I saw that recently, it was so surprising because Salt Lake City’s in a basin, it’s surrounded by mountains.
Okay. Cause the last time, you know, not so long, Yakutsk, well, some parts in Yakutia had the worst air quality in the world. And that was in the time of the forest fires. Yeah, they were bad, they were really bad. So and when some, you know, disasters happen, when we have such stressful situations, so usually there are three, let’s say scenarios, three types of behavior that people have.
So some people just freeze and, you know, they understand they need to do something, but they just can’t. They just freeze. There are some people who are very calm and, you know, they are like we need to do this-this-this, we need to go there.
You know, they start acting, they’re calm. And there are people who start to panic and, you know, scream, like, we’re all gonna die, we’re all gonna die! So, which one are you?
I’ve got a… I mean, who’s the chicken here?
I’m pretty sure I’m gonna be, so…
Actually, I’m not panicking, I’m just trying to … and try to do something.
So you’re more on the acting calm side.
Yeah, concentrate on what can I do right now to help my family members or to help myself. So as I already have experienced working national service for fire protection for 5 years, my mom is a senior scientist there right now, so she, the scientists of course, and my mom taught us how to behave in this kind of situations.
So in particular, during the earthquake. So you have to go under something hard, so to protect your head first of all. So if there is nothing something like that, a hard surface, so you should stay in the frame of the door. So…
You know, it’s interesting, cause well, nowadays they say that you should not stand in the doorway.
I thought I read that, yeah.
Cause in modern houses the way they’re building houses now, it’s, you know, it’s not stronger than any other part.
I missed the word steel frame.
Oh, so.. Okay. Cause I think nowadays it’s not steel in most cases, it’s just wood?
Our door is steel right now, in our flat. So it’s really useful one.
Okay, that’s very important.
Steel frame of the door. Of course, the best way is to run away some open space to stay.
Right, which is why when you were a little girl, your instinct was to go to your mother.
Yeah, my mom could help me.
I remember… Well, since you’ve mentioned, you know, earthquakes, let’s talk about, you know, the way we have to act when there is an earthquake. So, cause I read and I saw some pictures that in case of an earthquake your strategy should be drop, cover, hold on.
So like meaning, drop down onto your hands or knees, so that you’re not standing. Well, before the earthquake knocks you down, cause you know, it’s an earthquake. If it’s a strong one, you’re gonna fall anyway.
So drop to your knees. Then cover. As you said, go under the table or something like that and then hold on, just like hold onto your head, try to protect. And not move.
Yeah. Cause they actually say that most of the deaths in case of earthquakes are because of something falling on to you.
I guess in this case we’re not talking about something as disastrous, as you know, scale 9 earthquake. Cause in that case the building just collapses very often. So yeah, drop, cover, hold on. This is… And I remember a friend of mine who was working in Tokyo when there was, there was an earthquake, there was quite a serious earthquake. It was… I think it was 6, on a scale…
They have a lot of earthquakes there, right.
They do, they do. And she said that everywhere in Tokyo you can see the stickers like drop, hold on, cover. Like, everywhere. In buildings, elevators, everywhere. Just because, you know, they have a high chance of that happening.
So and immediately she remembered that and she got under the table and she said that she was scared as hell, of course. But it helped her not to get injured.
A lot of children in Armenia saved their lives due to this one going down under their tables, under their desks. So that’s why they could save their lives.
By the way, in London at the Natural History museum they have a… I believe they might still have it, It’s the earthquake simulator and basically it simulates a Japanese supermarket and there’s a shaking floor.
Trying to test something?
Yeah yeah, it’s… Yeah, it’s pretty fascinating. So next time you’re in London, check it out. If it’s still on.
What’s it for? Like, to see if you can stand still.
How can people react in this situation maybe?
Well it’s just like natural history, means, it’s just sort of what’s happening in nature, so it’s just, yeah…
I can remember the blue whale skeleton from there.
Yeah. I mean I haven’t been there in so many years.
It’s a fun place, yeah. But okay, so this is what you should do in case of an earthquake. Drop, cover, hold on. I’m gonna repeat it, you know, as many times as I can today, just in case. Just in case. But you know, it’s interesting cause I read some articles and in some of them people said if you’re inside, stay inside.
So like don’t try to go outside, cause while you are trying to get outside, you are most likely to get injured. You know, cause people would think oh I need to get outside. But it’s gonna take time.
Yeah. So if you are already outside.
Stay outside. But if you are inside, stay inside. Yeah.
It depends on a situation, actually.
Sometimes you have to hurry, you have to run, just to rush. Because you can save your life, so stones won’t fall on your head, you can…
So we have Inga here, who’s the leader, you are staying calm, you are, you know, telling people what to do, so which I think is very important for everyone who is around, so should anything happen, stick to Inga. Gary, what about you? What would be your reaction?
Well, I would hope that if actually I would get to be, you know, trying to figure out what to do. I mean, that might not be my first thing. Not that I get control right away, but hopefully I would eventually. And start looking.
Eventually, you know, can be… Can last…
Takes too long to get there, I don’t know. Yeah.
Benjamin, so does that mean… When you asked who else is the chicken, does that mean you’re the chicken?
Nah, I’d be a good boy. If it were my property, yeah, I wouldn’t be too sad. I mean, obviously I don’t want my own property to be destroyed by a natural disaster in which case I’d be distraught. But if I were in other building and no one was injured, I’d just be a good boy.
I think in my case that would depend on a type of catastrophe. Cause let’s say if it’s an earthquake, this strategy has been repeated and it’s been, you know, everywhere for so many times that you kinda remember.
You’re like okay, I think I know what to do. But if it’s like a fire or something like that, I think that I would either panic or just freeze. Like, and be, you know, lost. What am I to do? What to do? Panic, panic, panic, panic. Probably as a millennial I’d try to google what to do in this situation. You know, that’s also possible. But yeah.
If you can. Well I mean just because…
Just because I was growing up in a part of the country where there are no natural… We have no earthquakes in Yakutia, sometimes we have floods. But it’s not in the city, not in Yakutsk. So it’s in some kind of villages. So I’ve never been taught about any kind of natural disasters, what to do in case of fire, nobody ever told us what to do.
In my home state Ohio there are tornadoes. That’s the only natural thing and they don’t… They happen when they happen. But I think the basic idea is you do kinda the same thing as you do in an earthquake. You try to go under something.
Which states… Cause you have tornado alleys that…
Oh there is Oklahoma, you are right, there is a state like that.
Yeah, like Oklahoma. My mother’s sister, that’s gonna make my family sound disaster prone or something, but my mother’s sister lived right in Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma. And she actually had the experience of having to go…
Every house there has a basement, storm basement or hurricane basement, whatever they call it. And she actually went down into her basement and then the hurricane… The tornado came through and just leveled her house above her.
Yeah I see stories about that, you know, about huge tornadoes.
Yeah it’s really horrendous, I mean, I can’t even imagine. And they just.. Sort of, okay, went and found another house or whatever, you know. But wow, what an experience. Anyway, but yeah, that’s the kind of the Midwest…
Yeah, yeah, I mean, the Wizard of Oz, remember, there was…
You would think of like Midwest, oh, it sounds safe enough. But no!
No, it’s got tornadoes, yeah.
What about the North? Is North safe? Like is there any kind of natural disaster happening in the north?
The only thing you’ve got is along the Mississippi river, mainly Mississippi river there’s flooding and different parts that can be pretty serious flooding which is… It can go north. I think they have floods in, yeah, along large parts of the Mississippi river that goes all the way up into North Dakota. I think they have other things in the Dakotas, so yeah. There’s no escaping in the United States.
So wait, we’ve talked about what to do in case of an earthquake, in case of a tornado if… Well, you’re supposed to have a basement, so please go to the basement.
If you’re in that kind of…
But usually in the Midwest, they do have basements, right? Like…
But what to do in case of a hurricane?
If you’re in Florida, you just run away.
You just get out of there. You get in your car, you pack your car up and you just leave.
But what about other states? Cause I know that sometimes there are hurricanes in the east coast as well. Not as…
Again, they’ll give you… You’ve got warning. You’ve got warning.
Oh, then they’ll tell you what to do.
Yeah. So you’ve got maybe like days. And it’s the weirdest thing in the world actually, cause it’s completely clear. You know, my mother was leaving on Wednesday morning, it didn’t hit that area until Saturday morning. It’s what, 3 days? So you’re leaving, things look great. It’s a beautiful Florida day.
Yeah, and three days later it’s a complete disaster zone, you know, I mean. And so I think even in the, you know, it’s also shifting, it usually loses speed. Although there has been hurricanes…
I remember stories about hurricane Katrina as well which hit…
Remind me… New Orleans, yeah. Wait, how do you say it? How do you pronounce the name of the city?
Well different ways, you can say New Orleans, New Orleans.
Cause we just discussed this place with Barbara and she’s like what did you say? I’m like New Orleans, she’s like it’s New Orleans. I’m like I’m just gonna say NOLA, that’s what people call it now. So NOLA is easier.
I think maybe they.. New Orleans, they’ve got an interesting accent, I don’t know how they pronounce it, but I think it’s New Orleans.
Okay. So NOLA. I remember we were planning to go there and a friend of mine… Cause my name is Katerina, but everyone in the states calls me Katrina. Just because the e, it disappears from there. And she’s like when we go there, why don’t you say that your name’s Katya? I’m like why? She’s like well think twice. I don’t think they’ll be very happy to meet a Katrina there.
We didn’t’ get to go, but yeah, when I go, I’m gonna say my name’s Katya. So the short name. Okay, and what do we do if there is a fire?
Depends what kind of fire, electrical fire or we’re talking about wild fire, bush fire.
Let’s talk first about the electrical one, and then move to like forest fires. Cause that had been happening a lot lately.
Well I remember that you need to use carbon dioxide fire extinguishers on the electric fires, if I’m correct.
Okay, what if… Well let’s…
You don’t use any water of course, stay away from water on electrical fires.
That’s actually a good point. I would not… When I’m panicky, that would be my first instinct to… Well, the same, have you seen videos of people who work in different like cafes and restaurants and they have, you know, fire because of the oil and then their first instinct is to put water.
But then just, you know, it explodes. So yeah. But what if you are somewhere and you have no idea whether you have a fire extinguisher and probably you don’t have it if it’s at home. What to do then? Just panic and run away? Not panic and run away?
Cause I don’t have a fire extinguisher at home for example. And I have problems with wires, that’s why I’m not allowed to…. I haven’t been allowed to turn on the light in my living room for like two weeks already.
Maybe call the fire fighters.
From the outside probably, yeah. Okay.
Yeah I mean if it’s electrical fire, it’s gonna be kinda local, I mean, it’s gonna be in your house or… Right.
So don’t try to put it down yourself, call the professionals and evacuate immediately. Is that so then?
00:43:43 B: Well it depends on what stage the fire’s at. If it’s just starting, then you should do something about it, you shouldn’t rely on…
But I mean what if it’s electrical, you are not allowed to put it down with water, what to do then? I mean I just genuinely don’t understand what to do then.
Get a blanket and smother the flames.
Yeah probably smother, but it have…
It would have to be the right kind of blanket.
Well it depends how thick the blanket is. If it’s really thick and you jump on the fire.
Yeah, actually if you could wet the blanket, you know. If you had that kind of time, you know. Put that in the bathtub and wet, I mean…
Just don’t touch it when you do that I guess.
Well you just throw it over it. I can’t even…
So many things to keep in mind.
Does water do right with electrical…
It’s a bad idea, so you don’t wanna do that then.
So the best thing is then is to have… What is it, a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher you said?
Yeah, yeah, carbon dioxide.
I have a funny story about fire extinguishers. Yeah. Alright and what if…
Right. Yes. As long as it’s a funny story about…
Cause I’m not… Wait, when it is like white powder inside, is it carbon dioxide fire extinguisher or is it something different?
Yeah, when you use it it’s like white powder. Cause the thing is that I remember starting working at a school. And I was the class teacher of fifth graders who were like 12 years old. And I remember having a lesson and then the headmaster of the school just knocks on my door and she’s like we need to talk.
And I’m in the middle of a lesson, you know. I’m like okay? So and I leave the classroom and she’s like do you know what your kids did? I’m like I have no idea. She’s like follow me! So and she takes me to a place and the whole floor is white.
I’m like what is happening? What has happened here? She’s like well, several of your kids, who are 12 years old, broke the fire extinguisher. And then I later talked to kids like how on earth can you break a fire extinguisher? It has, you know, this protection thing. How do you call it? Like…
Like, how? They’re like it was an accident. Up to this day I still don’t understand how you can break a fire extinguisher when you are 12 years old. Of course when you are 12 years old you are destructive.
Teenagers can, Kate, teenagers can.
Maybe just drop it. If you… Probably if you drop it the wrong way. Maybe, do you think?
I don’t know, I don’t know. To me it should be, you know, handle more things that that, fire extinguisher. So yeah, up to this day. A mystery. Alright, and what about let’s say forest fires? This is a problem that has been happening a lot. We have Australian forest fires, we have California, we have Yakutia. A lot of places, a lot of places in the world are on fire. So what to do if you have a forest fire?
Well if you had a lake, yeah, that would be a great place to be.
Fair enough. Any other ideas? So I would say that it depends on where you are in terms of… 00:47:01 G: I think you probably just leave, it’s what you’re supposed to do, right. I mean, it’s just…
Well, yeah. But if we think for example about Yakutia, it’s cut off from the rest of the country. So it has a river. But when there were forest fires, the ferries were not going, so because it was… Like, there was so much smoke that you had no planes, no ferries.
So you couldn’t even leave the republic if you wanted to cause you would need to cross the river if you’re going by car for example. So people… And a lot of people had a problem, so there was smoke everywhere. So they would buy oxygen, you know, in like in a tank. Even with closed windows, you know, there was still smoke.
A lot of people were coughing, you know, a lot of people with asthma, kids, they were suffering. So and they say that what may help is when you close all the windows, of course, it’s really stuffy and hot inside then, but put wet blanket like on the window, so it absorbs at least some of the smoke.
I mean if you can’t leave from there. But that’s about, you know, dealing with the smoke from the forest fires. I know that in case of Australia, they just try to evacuate to the cities which were safer.
Yeah when I think of forest fires, of course it’s not exactly true, but it’s, you know, the American way of having their houses, separate houses and, you know, if you happen to live in an area that’s in real danger, I think you just need to like get out of there, right. Cause it’s just extremely dangerous.
Yeah, if you can, yeah. If you can, just go. Just go. Yeah. Okay. What about floods? How to act in case of a flood?
I think we should go somewhere higher, the highest point. As high as you can.
Yup. Yup yup yup yup yup.
Well, obviously, recently in the news Germany, Belgium, I think the Netherlands have been devastated by floods.
Yeah. They say that’s actually because of the forest fires.
Yeah, because the scale of the forest fires was so huge that, you know, it was too much of CO2 emissions so and that changed the way of what is happening in the atmosphere, you know, with the clouds and everything.
So it changed the wind and whatever else. So and that affected the rivers and everything. So they say because of the forest fires within the last several years, part of Europe is experiencing floods. But yeah. So yeah, you have to go somewhere higher.
Don’t try, of course, to swim in this flood to go somewhere, to find your relatives or… Because it is really dangerous. You don’t know how the currants can change.
They can drag you to dangerous situations.
Yeah I think the Internet told me that you should not walk, swim or drive through flood waters.
Yeah, I mean, just don’t. Don’t do that.
It may look, you know, as something you can do, but usually… Have you seen some videos cause I think a month ago there was a flood in Sochi area and they just showed, you know, cars just flowing…
Floating down. So yeah. Looked scary. We used to have floods in Yakutia, but it never reached the city itself. So it was never a problem to the city citizens. But it always hit the villages. So they would be evacuated.
And I just.. When I was a kid, and I still don’t understand, so when people experience a flood, you know, when there is water in their houses, they can’t use electricity after that, can they? I mean they have to… How?
No, I think it’s… That would wipe out the whole system… You wouldn’t have electricity.
I don’t even understand up to now that people try to build buildings near the water. It’s kinda of a natural disaster, so one day, you don’t know, it’s unpredictable that one day you will have tsunami or I don’t know, just earthquake. Just everything. Flood.
Well the Netherlands is an amazing country because it’s been… The way the country has been organized is by a system of dikes, which is a system of canals which kinda prevents flooding. However cities like Amsterdam are prone, well, have the potential to be flooded in the future. The engineers are developing floating houses for instance.
Yeah. So buy a floating house.
Yeah, I think, I think… Well we were supposed to get this education at school, you know, about how to act in case of natural disasters, but we never did. You know, instead we were just talking about how important it Is, you know, to know the content of an AK47 or something like that. Or just, you know, listening to stories of our teacher about his army days.
Oh I love those stories! This is the best stories. Army days. Oh, I love listening to that.
So and then you have, you know, a natural disaster and you’re like at least now I can remember all those stories.
You’ll have a few minutes to remember those great stories before you’re washed away or whatever.
I think we, like, now we should teach all the kids and everyone how to act cause these situations are happening more often these days I think. Compared to the past. Remember last year? Remember Texas last year? Texas, the south, and then they had this cold wave when a lot of things just froze.
They didn’t have electricity because of that, they didn’t have water. And I saw that some people, well, you know the way they do it in Texas with electricity. If you… You pay a set amount of money every single month, but then if you exceed it, and usually nobody does, you have to pay like way more.
And you can imagine, in case of that, you know, very cold weather, a lot of things freezing. A lot of people got their bills of like 15 thousand dollars per month. They just had, you know…
Yeah they’ve got ridiculous, you know, free market gone wild type of solutions, unique to Texas… Texas set itself off from the rest of the grid, right? And they just got their own thing. And most of the time that’s great and somebody saves, you know, a couple of dollars a month on your electric bill.
And then you have a situation like that and it stresses the system. They can’t go outside the state cause you literally don’t have the wires running anymore. And then you end up with, you know, very bad situations.
I remember when, you know, people were just surviving, they were hosting other people who didn’t have electricity or water and I have… At that time I was teaching online and I had a couple of students from Texas and they, you know, just sent me an email somehow like, I’m sorry, I won’t be able to be in class today, cause we have no electricity and we have like 35 people in our house.
Like, oh, wow. But I remember that the governor of Texas at that time, you know, posted a message like stay strong, Texas! But he was in Puerto Rico at the time.
Everyone was so furious with him, he had to, you know, officially apologize and go back to Texas.
Yeah he got out of there. He saw that something bad was happening and…
Like I am the governor of the state and I am outta here.
Yeah, right, that’s right.
Leading by example. Right.
Yeah. And what to do in case of an avalanche? Cause I’m not sure how widespread that is, but if you go snowboarding, if you go mountain skiing you might wanna know.
Oh so you take… I remember hearing this one thing, if you have a coin in your pocket, you dig a hole, if you’re buried in an avalanche, you dig a hole and you throw the coin up and you know which way, you know which way’s up and you just dig, you dig upwards.
Ah, so you throw… That’s interesting.
Maybe not a coin if it’s completely dark.
Yeah cause you can actually dig down, right? By mistake.
They say if you don’t have anything like that, if you know, you don’t have anything, try to put a little bit of saliva out of your mouth. Cause then if you’re upside down, it will go, you know, up.
Oh my goodness. I mean, you would know if you were upside down.
No you wouldn’t. If you’re under snow, you wouldn’t know, you have no idea.
You are completely lost and disoriented, so yeah.
I mean wouldn’t… I mean it’s… There had to be other indications or maybe not.
Well, if there are, then you’re kinda lucky. But yeah, there aren’t always…
Yeah, I know that you are, let’s say snowboarding or mountain skiing, you see an avalanche actually coming, don’t try to overrun it, cause that’s never gonna happen. Instead they say try to move to the side, so that you don’t, you know, you don’t get buried under it.
Then if you are under snow, try to first find out where’s the up, where’s the down and then, yeah, dig in that direction. And then they also say if you understand that it’s inevitably going to cover you, hold one arm up. So it might be that the snow will only cover, you know, part of your body. And then the rescuers might find it easier for you to actually find you.
So yeah. And they also say if you are under snow and you’re not sure not sure if you can actually make your way up, make some room to breathe. So at least, you know, create some space for you to breathe so that you don’t suffocate. Cause most of the deaths in case of an avalanche are from asphyxia, yeah. So when you don’t have enough air. Yeah but there’s been a lot of stories about, you know…
Well every year skiers die at ski resorts as a result of avalanches.
I know a girl, she used to be my student and they went up the mountains in Altai. So you know, with all that equipment, going up-up-up. And they said that the whole of their team had the second birthday that day that they now celebrate. Cause an avalanche just went down 10 meters on the right from them.
And they were like we were all so scared, but literally they now celebrate it as their second birthday. So it’s like a miracle. Cause can you imagine, just 10 meters. I cannot imagine how scary that must’ve been for them. Yeah. I think that’s why what I mostly do is just sit at home and watch my tv shows. Very safe.
I just thought of it. It was not quite an avalanche, but in Russia there’s obviously snow everywhere during the winter and usually snow and ice can fall off the roofs and buildings.
Yeah and every year that kills at least several people I think. So yeah, that’s why they say, you know, don’t walk along the building in winter. Yeah, that’s… Can you imagine the weight of that, you know, ton of snow that falls down the roof? Yeah, it’s also dangerous.
Oh yeah it is. No matter what… You can… Remember how we talked about, you know, air crashes and, you know, different catastrophes and you said that you have a higher chance of being killed by a donkey in your living room. So and when you think about all the things that can go wrong when you’re just sitting in your living room. It’s a scary world.
So and what to do… It’s not a catastrophe as such, but how to act when you’re outside and there is a thunderstorm?
To hide somewhere, just enter to some entrance.
Okay, what if you are outside, meaning like you are outside-outside, like in a field, in a forest.
Okay, what am I doing in the field?
Picking up flowers, being a flower fairy as you are. I don’t know, maybe you’re taking a photoshoot in the field of sunflowers, people do that. It’s beautiful.
Maybe lie down, just flat, lie down.
Okay. Okay, that’s a good take.
And of course covering your head as well.
Actually, I read that it’s better to kinda into a bowl like position. Cause when you are flat apparently it’s easier for a lightning to hit you. And then all my life I used to think that if you are in a situation like that, you should go under a tree and it’s gonna be fine.
And then people were like that’s exactly what you should never do.
I think the thing with the going into a position where you’re just protecting your head is that… that the danger point is if your feet touch the ground. That’s why you wanna minimize that. And so you just want to have…
It says be on the balls of your feet, you know. And covering your head and just so that your only point of contact, so I guess if somebody gets hit by a lightning then it damages the soles of your feet. But if you had more of your body then it could damage… Damage isn’t the right word, injure, injure you.
Yeah and then you should not be anywhere high cause, you know…
Right, try to go low, yeah. So it’s low but kinda minimal contact with the ground. I guess it’s…
Again, I never used to know these things, cause growing up in Yakutia, we only had like a thunderstorm maybe once during the summer if we were unlucky or lucky, I do not know. Maybe unlucky. I still remember one thunderstorm and it was like, you know… after that I moved to Siberia and I had my first thunderstorm, I literally went under the blanket.
I’m like that’s too loud and too scary and too bright! Cause in Yakutia in never happens like that, it’s a little bit of thunder, little bit of lightnings. But I still remember a thunderstorm we had when a lightning… There was a strong wind as well and I think it hit the… What is it? Like electricity posts or… How do you call these things like…
The power lines. I seem to become bye-lingual in both of my languages, I’m getting worse. So, sorry. So, yeah, apparently it hit the power lines, so we didn’t have electricity for two days. Lovely days when we had, you know, the whole of the house, which is 12 apartments, have a fire in the, you know, just outside and cooking.
Would’ve been summer, right.
So can you imagine two of the freezers full of meat and fish just went bad. It was just one neighborhood, not the whole town. Just one or two neighborhoods that were without electricity for two days.
When I lived in New York, they had some kind of a major storm and it took out a power station, substation. And it took out the entire neighborhood for 5 days, it took them to get things restored. And of course all the food went bad, you know, just there was no emergency.
I mean there is certain things you can do for emergency that, cook that. Which is when I went to the museums because I couldn’t be at home, I couldn’t do anything there. So I went to the Guggenheim and actually what happened was it was extremely hot. It was extremely hot, it was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
And that and the substation melt and the air conditioning… It’s not really a natural disaster, but it’s too much energy used. And it just took out the substation, took out the whole neighborhood, you know, big... Tens of thousands of people. And… But I got to see the Guggenheim museum and I got to see…
And I went to see the Natural History… I don’t remember which I did, I went to a bunch of museums, I should’ve gone to it a bunch of other times as well.
But you say it’s not an actual disaster, but in a way, you know, heatwaves.
We can say that heatwaves are a natural disaster, right?
Like this year in Moscow, that was horrible when they had like 35-37-38 degrees for a very long time. And it’s Moscow, you know, it’s concrete everywhere. So yeah. I know that a lot of people with weak hearts, you know, they died because of the heat.
And I read a lot of tips on how to deal with the heatwave, you know, like to fill… If you have a bathtub, fill it with cold water, ice, close your windows.
Yeah, all of these, all these things. Okay. So we’ve talked about earthquake, hurricane, avalanche. So, anything else? I think we’ve covered it all.
Meteorite in Chelyabinsk. Immediately came to my mind.
That’s a very often happening natural disaster, right.
Not too often, but yeah, I just remembered. Yeah, how long ago was it. 8 years ago?
It was 2014 I think. Isn’t it?
Have you seen all those footage, the dashcam footage.
But people… Very often people are just so calm, like, oh, okay. Like, what? You have a meteorite falling and you’re just so calm?
It’s a usual thing for them.
Well yeah. We never know…
We don’t know what’s happening over there in Chelyabinsk. Okay. I think we’ve covered it all, at least most of them. So, yeah. Do you have… If you had to give our listeners one piece of advice regarding these natural disasters, what would it be?
Learn how to use a fire extinguisher.
I would say have one at least, as a start.
Words of wisdom from you Gary!
How about this, just be prepared. Think about it beforehand. Like you can review what we had here, that’s useful.
You could buy a SAS, Urban Survival Guide…
SAS survival guide. It’s a great guide. The SAS is a special secret services of the UK. And they publish this amazing book. Great for your English, check it out. And it’s fascinating. It tells you everything from what to do in an emergency and from what fruits and vegetables or what berries not to eat for instance.
How to survive on a stranded island.
Yeah. So yeah, SAS survival book.
Okay. Sounds cool. Inga, do you have…?
I want to advise not to panic, to try to concentrate as much as possible to help yourself and your relatives, people around you. The most useful one I think.
Easier said than done I think, but… Yeah.
I’m gonna use all these, you know, pieces of advice, all your wisdom. Alrighty, alrighty, and just as usual, I have some questions to our listeners, so have you ever been in a situation when, you know, there was a natural catastrophe? I hope you haven’t. So if you don’t leave comments, I’ll say okay, that means that you haven’t been in a natural catastrophe. But we also need comments, I love chatting, so.
You know, yeah. Have you had your lessons about safety and… What was it called like? What was this subject called?
Health and safety, yeah, I think it was more like that. Health and safety. And if so, what did you learn there? Cause I sure learned nothing from there at my school in my day.
I don’t think they had health hand safety when I was at school. We didn’t…
Living in state which had tornadoes.
So teenagers should comment if they have some kind of…
Yeah, or people in their early 20s, who still remember what it was like. Well, I mean, depends on your memory. Looking at Gary, wink-wink.
Alright, so that was the BigAppleSchool and today we discussed natural disasters, natural catastrophes. Thank you for listening and remember, if you struggle to understand our conversation, you are always welcome to our website, which is…
Com/podcast. Seriously, Gary, you used to be better at this.
I have to be concentrating, thinking about it. I have to be ready. Not ready for the disaster at the end of each…
He said I’m not ready for a disaster and looked at me. Okay. Okay, so on this website, you can find scripts of each episode, so it is really interactive and really fun to use. And if you want to have even more content which will help you learn English, you can browse the website, which is bigappleschool.com in general to find different articles, videos, you name it.
And you can also follow us on the social media, such as Instagram, Vk, Youtube, telegram. We are literally everywhere. Just search our name, which is again BigAppleSchool. So that was Katya and my guests for today were…
Stay tuned and we’ll see you around.