WEBSTER COUNTY, Ky. (1/16/13) - Next month, Webster County will join hundreds of communities throughout a nine state region to prepare for the worst case scenario by participating in a region wide earthquake drill during the third annual “Great Central U.S. ShakeOut.” At 10:15 a.m. (Central Time) on Feb 7, 2013, millions of people will practice the recommended safety action in the event of an earthquake, “Drop, Cover and Hold On.” During an earthquake, individuals are advised to:
• Drop to the ground.
• Take Cover under a sturdy table or desk if possible, and protect their heads and necks.
• Hold On until the shaking stops.
It’s hard for residents of Webster County to fathom it, but historically our region has been a hot bed for earthquakes. They have not been frequent, but they’ve been devastating.
Occasionally we will see reports of large earthquakes doing damage in California or on the other side of the globe. The earthquakes in this region are different.
For one, because of the rock type, the seismic waves travel farther in this area than they do in the west.
Second, they come in series. The famed February 7, 1812 earthquake was the third in a series of devastating earthquakes between December 16, 1811 and February 7, 1812. They registered 7.7, 7.6 and 7.7. Several aftershocks registered more than 6.0, for a total of seven earthquakes between a 6.0 and 7.7 during that three month period.
The United States Geologic Survey (USGS) says that geologic record of pre-1811 earthquakes reveals that the New Madrid seismic zone has repeatedly produced sequences of major earthquakes, including several of magnitude 7 to 8, over the past 4,500 years.
The ShakeOut occurs on the heels of Hurricane Sandy, the deadly storm that impacted millions of Atlantic Coast citizens, caused more than $60 billion in losses, and leaves a lasting reminder of the destructive power of natural disasters.
“This storm has once again shown us what widespread damage and disruption a regional disaster can have on the entire nation,” said Jim Wilkinson, executive director of the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium. During the storm, the loss of life could have been much greater had communities and citizens been complacent about the threat they faced.”
Like hurricanes, earthquakes can have ripple effects on the nation’s infrastructure. The date of the ShakeOut drill coincides with the anniversary of the Feb. 7, 1812 earthquake near New Madrid, Missouri, the last of a series of great earthquakes that caused the formation of Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee and were felt as far away as the eastern seaboard. Were these earthquakes to occur today, they would affect millions of people and disrupt many critical functions such as economic, transportation, utility and communication services.
“Unlike storms, such as Hurricane Sandy, earthquakes are unpredictable and experts are unable to forecast when one might occur,” said Jeremy Moore, director of Webster County Emergency Management. “This is why it is so important to know in advance how to mitigate risks and the proper safety actions, to take, such as Drop, Cover and Hold On, when an earthquake does occur!”
With more than 2 million people expected to participate, the ShakeOut provides individuals and communities a dedicated time to focus on disaster safety and preparedness activities such as:
• Practicing earthquake safety actions and updating emergency plans and supply kits.
• Securing heavy items to prevent them from causing injuries during an earthquake.
• Talking with colleagues, family members, and friends about how they might respond to any emergency.
To participate in the drill, interested citizens, schools, communities and businesses are asked to visit www.shakeout.org/centralus and register to participate. Once registered, participates will be added to the growing list of individuals and will receive more information about how to participate. Many resources are available on the website for participants to use during their drills including drill manuals, videos, audio drill broadcasts, earthquake scenarios and more.
Organized by the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium and the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee, and hundreds of local state, federal and volunteer partners; the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut is free and available to the public. All who are interested in disaster preparedness are encouraged to participate. For information on Kentucky’s earthquake preparedness program, please visit, http://kyem.ky.gov/programs/Pages/Earthquake.aspx .
J-E News Editor
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