Earthquake drill to prepare residents for 'what if'

COLUMBIA CITY — Local government agencies and schools, as well as some businesses, will be joining organizations throughout the Midwest in a coordinated drill for earthquake preparedness.“It’s just preparing for the ‘what if,’” said Cathy Broxon-Ball of the Whitley County Emergency Management Agency/Department of Homeland Security.Broxon-Ball said the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut, which will be observed in Indiana April 19 due to conflicts with ISTEP (Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress) testing, will involve all three school corporations in Whitley County.Other Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium member states will participate the next week.“All the schools and our county government are participating,” she said.She said the observance will involve drills at 10:15 a.m. on April 19.The students at participating schools will be asked to get under their desks, hang onto the desk and use the school furniture piece as shelter.“If the desk moves (in a real scenario), they are to go with the desk,” she said.Broxon-Ball said drills for earthquakes in this part of the country are important because of the infrequency of the natural disasters.“We don’t have them, and when we do, they’re just little shakes,” she said.According to a press release from Broxon-Ball’s office the drill is a partnership between the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, the Indiana Department of Education and Indiana Geological Survey.The drill involves member states of the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium.According to the Indiana Geological Survey, one of the most powerful earthquakes recorded in North America occurred in New Madrid, Mo. in 1811.The earthquake caused buildings to collapse, trees to topple and the Mississippi River to change its course.The shocks from that quake were felt in Indiana, and the Hoosier State has felt the effects of many earthquakes since, according to the organization.The strongest was the 1895 Charleston, Mo., quake, which damaged buildings in Evansville and other parts of southwestern Indiana.While not as famous as the California’s San Andreas Fault, Indiana has several faults of its own.Most are located in the southwestern corner of the state and extend into Illinois, and are collectively known as the Wabash Valley Fault System.In April 2008, the U.S. Geological Survey measured a 5.2-magnitude earthquake northwest of Mount Carmel, Ill., on the Wabash Valley fault.That quake was felt by Kokomo residents, many of which were awakened by the earth shaking.Again in 2010, Kokomo area residents felt the ground shake from a 3.8-magnitude earthquake in West Liberty.