Calling it the "Great Shakeout," residents, schools and businesses in nine states participated in what was called "the largest earthquake drill in the history of the Midwest" Thursday.
At Eldorado Middle School an announcement from the principal’s office came at 10:15 a.m. over the public address system. Students throughout the school ducked under their desks and grabbed hold of the legs for a period of about three minutes. The pupils appeared to take the drill seriously.
More than 2.3 million people registered for the drill. The nine states that participated were Illinois, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Oklahoma.
All Saline County schools participated.
The drill received a boost from the White House. President Obama said, "Events like the "Great Shakeout" raise awareness about the importance of disaster preparedness."
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, according to a news release from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. Bridges, docks, highways and water infrastructure would be in shambles.
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.