Transportation Department will test state's quake response

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri Department of Transportation plans to hold a statewide drill Thursday to gauge its preparedness for an earthquake.

The department said Monday that the exercise will be used to test aspects of the agency's emergency plan and employee reaction.

Missouri is one of several states located on the New Madrid Fault, which begins about 25 miles northwest of Memphis, Tenn., and extends through New Madrid and Cairo, Ill.

Missouri has an average of 200 earthquakes a year, though few are felt, the department said.

"Earthquakes strike without warning, and the best response is to be informed and prepared," said Henry Hungerbeeler, Transportation Department director.

The department said a major earthquake in Missouri would result in significant destruction in St. Louis and the Bootheel, with additional damage possible in other parts of the state.

The drill Thursday will include Missouri officials contacting other states to determine when help would arrive in case of a major earthquake. Staff also will conduct mock damage scenarios.

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