February 03, 2012

‘Shakeout’ emphasizes need to plan for earthquake

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The balmy mid-winter temperatures are unusual for Southern Illinois in early February, but an earthquake is a geological phenomenon that can strike without any warning.

The second “Central U.S. Shakeout” next week serves as a reminder that earthquakes can happen at anytime.  A “drop, cover, and hold on” drill associated with the event for nine states will be at 10:15 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 7.  Information on keeping yourself safe, along with tips for preparing your home for earthquakes, is available at www.shakeout.org/centralus/

“We support the educational efforts through a state-wide drill.  This is a valuable reminder for all of us that an earthquake is a real possibility in our region and it is important that we are prepared,” Chancellor Rita Cheng said.

The event is on the 200th anniversary of one of three principal earthquakes among a series of shocks that occurred along the New Madrid Seismic Zone during 1811 and 1812, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.  The 7.7 magnitude earthquake on Feb. 7, 1812, destroyed New Madrid, Mo., and damaged homes in St. Louis.  The series of earthquakes also produced several high magnitude aftershocks.  In addition, portions of southeastern Illinois are part of the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone.

The eight states involved with next week’s drill are Illinois, Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, according to the organization’s website.

Pre-planning is critical, said Russell Thomas, a police officer with the University’s Department of Public Safety.

“It’s important that you know what you need to do in the event there is a major earthquake,” he said.