Scientists estimate that there is a 25 to 40 percent probability of a damaging earthquake occurring in the central U.S. within a 50 year window. Here’s how a shakeout drill and is helping Mississippi students handle this potential hazard. In Mrs. Lee's 5th grade class at Pass Road Elementary, she teaches her students all about earthquakes. Lee says, "We talk about the plates and the different plates that shift: convergent and divergent, and the students know what those are." On Thursday, Mrs. Lee's students learned not about the earthquakes, but what to do if one happens. Jerritt Ruiz, a student at Pass Road Elementary, says, "If you are near a desk, you get under the desk. If you were near a table, you get under the table." Her class joined almost 200 thousand Mississippians in the Great Central U.S. Shakeout.
The goal of this "drop, cover, and hold on" drill is to draw attention to the earthquake hazard that exists in Mississippi, across the country, and around the world. Lee also says, "Most students don't know and most parents don't know that we are close to a fault line and they need to be prepared for any situation and an earthquake is one of those." Unlike other natural disasters, there is typically no warning that an earthquake is going to hit, which is why it's so important to be prepared. Jonathon Dill, the principal at Pass Road Elementary, says, "We prepare for hurricanes and fire drills and tornado drills and we don't know how many students will continue to live on the Gulf Coast. They may move to California. They may vacation there one day where an earthquake may take place. For them to be prepared for that type of situation is a good idea." The shakeout is nationwide, with more than 16 million people participating. The drill allows communities to get ready for earthquakes, practice how to protect themselves, and to prevent disasters from becoming catastrophes. Ruiz also says, "I think it's important for us to have earthquake drills because whenever we really do have an earthquake, we'll be ready and know what to do." The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency helped coordinate the event, along with the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium and dozens of other partners. You can find out more about Shakeout and what you can do to prepare for an earthquake at www.shakeout.org.