The mantra for
earthquake drills is "Drop, Cover, and Hold On."
Students will practice dropping to the floor, crawling under their
desks for cover and holding on to the legs or frame that can protect
them from falling debris. Repetitive activity will reinforce the
steps for reacting to an earthquake, just as repeated fire and
tornado drills teach students the steps to take if those disasters
"The first Thursday in February has been designated as Earthquake
Preparedness Day, and this will become as familiar to the students
as the tornado and fire preparedness drills," said Dan Fulscher,
Logan County E911 and emergency services director.
"Alana (Sorrentino) has worked diligently to organize this event.
She has worked closely with the schools, and especially with the
regional superintendent, Jean Anderson, who is a big supporter of
this program," Fulscher said.
"Alana contacted all 17 schools in the county and 15 are
participating on Tuesday," Fulscher continued. "We are thrilled that
those schools are going to run the drill and will be better prepared
when they need to react to the real thing."
Sorrentino is the hazmat specialist with the Logan County
Emergency Management Agency office and took on the earthquake
preparedness project as a related activity. She contacted Sysco and
Eaton, schools, colleges, Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital, and
established an email contact list to update participants on the
To launch the activities today, Sorrentino will announce on
Washington-Monroe's public address system that the drill has begun.
The classrooms will then begin the practice drill and listen to the
officials from Logan County and the Illinois Emergency Management
Agency. After the drill, students will attend an assembly in the
gym, where they will receive additional information and be asked for
input about their experience.
Logan County was chosen to be the featured site because of the
emergency management staff's reputation for taking a project
seriously and following it to the end.
"Patty Thompson, IEMA's public information officer, recommended
Logan County," Fulscher said. "She told me that she knew if my staff
was asked to take this project, they would do it with enthusiasm and
completely. That is something, to be known as an efficient and
enthusiastic team by a state office."
In reference to the importance of learning the drill for
earthquake preparedness, Fulscher said this about practicing and
understanding the possibility of an occurrence: "In the emergency
management world, the word is not 'if,' but 'when' will an
earthquake happen. We can't wait until afterward and say we should
have prepared. We need to do it now, before it's too late. The
results may not be preventable, but we can save people and diminish
the human casualties of a disaster."
[to top of second column]
When what is considered the New Madrid earthquake occurred, there
was actually a series of quakes over three months. The first came at
approximately 2 o'clock in the morning on Dec. 16, 1811. A second
major quake hit on Jan. 23, 1812. The final and most severe
earthquake in the trio came on Feb. 7, 1812.
Evaluating the information on the damage the quake caused and
other factors, seismologists from the United States Geological
Survey estimate the earthquake measured right around magnitude 7 on
the Richter scale.
Tremors were felt as far north as Quebec, Canada; as far south as
the Gulf of Mexico; as far east as the Atlantic coast. Experiences
were reported by the few inhabitants of the countryside, and
newspapers that received reports repeated horror stories about
people and animals disappearing into openings in the earth. The
Mississippi River reversed direction, and deep fissures tore open
and scarred the land. The sparse population kept casualties to a
minimum, but today that would not be the case.
During this quake, log cabin structures weathered the shaking,
but stone and masonry buildings cracked and were subject to damage.
Today there are no log cabins and almost more people along the New
Madrid fault than lived in the entire nation in 1811.
Results will be different the next time, and while there is no
way to prevent an earthquake, it will save lives and initiate a more
organized recovery if the public is informed and aware; because as
Fulscher said, it isn't a matter of "if," but "when" it will happen.
[By MARLA BLAIR]