SPRINGFIELD – Governor Pat Quinn today called on every Illinois resident, school and business to participate in what’s being called the “largest earthquake drill in the history of the Midwest” on Thursday, February 7, at 10:15 a.m. The third annual Great Central U.S. ShakeOut is a nine-state emergency preparedness drill designed to encourage residents to think about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.
Participants can register for the drill online at www.shakeout.org/centralus, and will receive valuable tips and information about earthquake preparedness. More than 410,000 Illinois residents are already registered for the drill, which will highlight Earthquake Preparedness Month in Illinois.
“It only takes a minute to register online in the Great ShakeOut and just seconds to participate in the drill itself, but the lessons are invaluable,” Governor Quinn said. “This drill embraces the motto of the U.S. Coast Guard: ‘Semper Paratus’ or ‘Always Ready’. I invite everyone to learn what they can do to keep safe.”
The drill received a boost from the White House. “Events like the Great ShakeOut raise awareness about the importance of disaster preparedness, and show how individuals and communities can connect, engage and learn what action to take,” President Obama said.
Illinois sits atop two major fault zones, the New Madrid Seismic Zone and the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone. The most powerful series of earthquakes ever to hit the United States happened in 1811-12 near New Madrid, Missouri. In a 2008 study conducted by the University of Illinois Mid-America Earthquake Center, it was projected that if a similar quake struck the same region today, there would be 3,500 fatalities, 2.6 million people without electricity and $300 billion in direct economic losses. Bridges, docks, highways and water infrastructure would be in shambles.
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is heading up preparedness efforts in Illinois. “The ShakeOut drill raises awareness about the threat of earthquakes in Illinois,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “The drill only takes a few minutes, but the lessons learned can save countless lives.”
Director Monken noted that on the IEMA website – Ready.Illinois.gov residents are offered tips for emergency planning, such as knowing escape routes and family reunification plans, building an earthquake kit and caring for pets. The site provides tips on how to act during a seismic event, such as avoiding bookcases, or, if driving, viaducts. The drill focuses on the “Drop, Cover and Hold On” protective actions people should take when a quake begins: “Drop” down to the floor, take “Cover” under a sturdy desk or table, and “Hold On” until the shaking stops.
With just one week to go, 2.3 million Midwestern residents have already registered for the 2013 Great Central U.S. ShakeOut. The event is sponsored by the Central United States Earthquake Consortium and its member states of Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Oklahoma. Other participating organizations include the American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and U.S. Geological Survey.