Students at Alma Schrader Elementary will be among those in 396 schools statewide who drop, cover and hold on during an earthquake drill today. The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut event is a day of earthquake safety awareness promotion for nine central U.S. states.
Agencies that focus on emergency management and disaster recovery are sponsoring the event, which will consist of widespread drills and informational presentations for some communities. The event coincides with the 200th anniversary of the final earthquake in the 1811-1812 series of quakes in the New Madrid Seismic Zone.
Schools in Missouri are required to hold two earthquake drills each year, and other schools in the Cape Girardeau School District and districts in the surrounding area will also hold drills either today or throughout the week, said Fred Jones, safety coordinator for the Southeast Missouri Regional School Safety Center.
Alma Schrader students are used to the drills, said principal Ruth Ann Orr, and can exit the building as required in a drill in under two minutes following a period where they are told to drop to their knees, get under a sturdy object such as a desk, cover their head and hold on to that sturdy object.
Mark Winkler, area coordinator for the Missouri State Emergency Agency, will give a presentation to fourth-grade students at Alma Schrader before the drill and will cover the history of the New Madrid earthquakes, give an outlook on the region's risk for major earthquakes and talk about how to prepare for an earthquake, Jones said.
"It's not meant to be scary for them; it's just preparing them for what could happen," Jones said.
While the event encourages participation from schools, public places in general are a target for the event, according to the website www.shakeout.org/centralus, which provides registration for the event, gives scenarios for drills and keeps track of participant activities.
According to the site, 2.3 million people in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee will participate in the drill, set for 10:15 a.m. today.
Last year's event was held April 28 in the central U.S. and involved about 3 million people in 11 states, according to information provided by the state on behalf of participating agencies.
Some schools and other public venues may hold related drills later in the week due to use as polling places for today's presidential primary elections.
1360 Randol Ave., Cape Girardeau, MO