by Mark Heyne, Kentucky Public Radio
Tomorrow is the 200th anniversary of the last of the big New Madrid earthquakes—a series of seismic events that shook the Midwest in 1811 and 1812. The earthquakes destroyed the town of New Madrid, Missouri and created Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee. Scientists say similar quakes could hit the region anywhere and anytime, so they’re taking steps to educate and prepare the public.
To mark the date, emergency management officials are holding their second annual large-scale earthquake drill. Kentucky and Indiana are among nine states that are directly taking part in the Great Central U.S. Shakeout.
David Davis is Kentucky’s Earthquake Program Manager. He says there are two reasons for the exercise.
“Raise the awareness that we have a risk of earthquakes in this area and then second, as kind of a starting motivation to get people to start to prepare for an earthquake,” he said.
Davis says it’s a simple drop, cover and hold-on exercise that starts at 11:15 Eastern time and lasts for 60 seconds. That might raise questions among co-workers, but Davis says that’s the point.
“What we really want is for you to go around to your office and say ‘Hey, I’m going to do this—I’d love it if you’d join me. It’s 60 seconds,’” he said. “And hopefully they’ll say, ‘Well why do I have to do that?’ and you’ll tell them, ‘Well, it’s the safest thing to do during an earthquake, because more people get injured and killed by objects falling and hitting them rather than actual building collapses.’”
He says 357,000 Kentuckians and more than 3 million people in the 9-state region participated last year.