Kentucky participates in national ShakeOut

Staff Report

Great US ShakeOut

Kentucky will participate in the 2013 Great Central U.S. ShakeOut today, Oct. 17 at various locations around the state. The exercise is an annual event to remind citizens to prepare for earthquakes. (Illustration courtesy of shakeout.org)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — September is National Preparedness Month according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). But FEMA also advises that safety precautions be considered throughout the year. As an example, each October, more than 40 states and territories and millions of people participate in earthquake safety activities nationwide.

In the middle of the country, including Kentucky, the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut occurs on the third Thursday of October. During the self-led drill, participants practice how to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On”.  More than 12 million people are expected to participate in ShakeOut drills nationwide.  In addition to safety drills, many participants take extra steps to become more prepared for earthquakes.

Many know about the risks that earthquakes pose here in the U.S. and around the world.   Some have heard of the New Madrid Earthquake Zone located in Western Kentucky, but the truth is, earthquakes can happen any time, anywhere throughout Kentucky.

According to FEMA, several thousand shocks of varying sizes occur annually in the United States, and 70 to 75 damaging earthquakes occur throughout the world each year. All 50 states and all U.S. territories are vulnerable to earthquakes. Where earthquakes have occurred in the past, they will happen again. The largest earthquakes felt in the United States were along the New Madrid Fault in Missouri, where a 3-month-long series of quakes from 1811 to 1812 included three quakes larger than a magnitude of 8 on the Richter Scale. These earthquakes were felt over the entire eastern United States (over 2 million square miles), with Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi experiencing the strongest ground shaking.

New Madrid Fault line

The New Madrid Siesmic Zone can be seen in the red and orange colors along the borders of Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois. The colors indicate a higher threat of a severe earthquake occurring in the area. (Map courtesy of the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency)

It is critical that our citizens, communities and schools are prepared for natural disasters.  A catastrophic earthquake in the New Madrid Zone would impact not only Kentucky, but several surrounding states, as well.  The overall impact could make the disaster of Hurricane Katrina pale in comparison.

Such possibilities demand attention and planning, which is why the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management (KYEM) participates in several annual exercises to ensure the right people are in the right place and know what to do.

“We recognize that a major earthquake is our largest natural threat,” said Buddy Rogers, public information officer for KYEM.  “By preparing for an earthquake our citizens, and officials should be prepared for any natural disaster and when such a event occurs the Commonwealth Emergency Operations center would be instrumental in the response and recovery.”

Kentucky also has a new tool in its own safety preparedness in the new emergency operations center, recently completed in Frankfort, Ky.  Rogers said the replaced EOC handled more than 5,000 statewide incidents in the first 10 months of the year.

“We certainly would require full capacity involvement from our 15 Emergency Support Function partners and the CEOC will run 24/7 for a long duration,” he said. ” You never know, the next call could be a catastrophic earthquake.”

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