Planet Gore

Preparing for the Big One in the Heartland

The Hill reports on the “Great Central U.S. Shakeout,” an earthquake-preparedness drill for states that could be affected by a major earthquake along the New Madrid fault line:

The Departments of Homeland Security and Education are reaching out to millions of people in central U.S. states to get them to participate in an earthquake preparedness drill.

In an event called the “Great Central U.S. Shake Out,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are reaching out to areas in the Midwest that could be impacted by an earthquake along the New Madrid fault line.

According to the event’s website, more than 2.5 million people have committed to taking part in Thursday’s drill in which participants will be told how to react in the event of an earthquake.

Participants are told to drop to the ground, take cover under something sturdy, such as a desk or a table, and hold on to it until the shaking stops.

“It’s critical that all members of the nation’s emergency management team — including the federal government, state, local and tribal officials, the private sector and the public — are prepared,” said Napolitano.

“Learning how to protect yourself and your loved ones in the event of an earthquake or other disaster is a vital life skill — and we look forward to working with schools, colleges and our other partners to strengthen the resiliency of communities across the central United States,” she said.

The White House is reaching out to schools in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee.

“The ShakeOut drill is an important exercise for parents, students, teachers and schools leaders across the country, and I hope it encourages more schools to develop, implement and evaluate emergency plans,” said Duncan.

I grew up in California and we had these drills all the time in school. And they were worthless. Not a single student ever dropped under a desk nor did a teacher ever give that order during a real earthquake. What we would do is look up at the swinging lights for a few seconds wondering if this was the “Big One” we had been promised would one day hit the Los Angeles area.

And when people do act as they’re taught — as NBC reporter Kent Shocknek did in 1987, they are ridiculed:

This drill is a start, but a century or so of complacency to the danger of an earthquake in this area will not be overcome easily.

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