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Director Encourages Participation in Earthquake Exercise for New Madrid

Director Encourages Participation in Earthquake Exercise

By Paul Hackbarth, Missourian Staff Writer |

Washington’s emergency management director is encouraging individuals, businesses, schools and service groups to participate in a regional earthquake preparedness drill.

Those taking part are asked to practice “Drop, Cover and Hold On” — drop to the ground, take cover under a table or desk and hold on to it. People in an earthquake should not get in doorways or run outside.

Municipalities, businesses, schools, service organizations and individuals in Missouri along with eight other states are being asked to take part.

As of Friday, more than 1.6 million participants from the region have agreed to take part in the drill in some form. Of those, more than 366,000 are from Missouri so far.

Bill Halmich, emergency management director, said the city of Washington has registered for the drill.

Halmich provided city departments with information about the drill and said each department will participate in a manner that does not disrupt city services that day.

A resolution to participate is expected to be brought before the city council Monday, Feb. 6, Halmich said.

Unlike other natural disasters, earthquakes can be an unusual challenge to prepare for because there are no advance warnings, he said.

Those who register can participate at different levels based on how much time they can allow for the exercise.

“It can be as easy as providing information to your staff,” Halmich said, such as emailing employees tips on how to prepare for an earthquake at home and work or hanging banners and signs throughout organizations or workplaces.

Another way to participate is hold post-drill discussions to hear what people learned and plan their next steps.

Participants also can consider taking part in safety drills, discussing what to expect will happen during the drill and then holding a feedback session after the drill to identify strengths and weaknesses.

Registered participants will be asked after the drill to provide information as to what they did to prepare. Then, those individuals or groups will receive a certificate of participation.

Halmich is asking once participants receive their certificate to notify him so he can make a list of who in this area took part and how.

On April 28, 2011, 486,238 organizations and individuals in Missouri took part in the first Great Central U.S. ShakeOut.

This time of year marks the 200th anniversary of the New Madrid earthquakes that occurred between December 1811 and February 1812. The epicenters of those quakes were in southeastern Missouri and northeastern Arkansas.

For more earthquake preparedness resources, people may visit http://shakeout.org/centralus.