Missouri (the "boot hill"). This strong an earthquake could potentially cause widespread devastation, especially to the cities of St. Louis and Memphis, Tennessee. The shockwave could ripple outward as far away as Canada, New England, the Deep South and into central Nebraska.
Because damage would be less severe in Greater Kansas City, the area would be counted upon to accommodate 40,000 to 100,000 evacuees from the harder hit regions closer to the quake's epicenter. The May 16-20 exercises in Jackson County included the simulation of a distribution center for emergency supplies, a reception center for registering displaced persons and establishing shelters for both evacuees and pets.
For the purposes of the exercise the state of Missouri was divided into three quadrants. The eastern third of the state was designated an "affected area" during the exercise, meaning it suffered the most destruction due to the earthquake; the middle third a "response area," from which emergency responders were sent eastward into the "affected area;" and the western third a "resource area" with the primary responsibility of receiving and caring for evacuees.
Throughout the week-long exercise, the Eastern Jackson County Emergency Management Team (EMT) received scenarios from the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency that were designed to gauge the team's ability to adapt to the ongoing crisis. Those scenarios, Jackson County Emergency Preparedness Director Michael Curry explained prior to the exercise, could range from bridges collapsing to injured people being flown into Kansas City International Airport.
"We'll have all kinds of scenarios thrown at us, and we'll have to respond to each one," Curry said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) coordinated this exercise, which had been in the planning stages for more than 2-1/2 years.
The eight states participating were Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
The eight-state exercise began at 8:30 a.m. The Eastern Jackson County Emergency Management Team (EMT) tested its communication systems, which include web-based programs, telephones, cell phones, satellite phones and multiple radio frequencies.
Tuesday, May 17
The EMT operated an emergency response distribution center at Lowe's, located at 19000 East Valley View Parkway in Independence (off 291 Highway and Interstate 70). The public was encouraged to participate.
Trucks were set up to simulate what would be done in the event of a real emergency, during which water and food would be distributed to individuals displaced by a disaster. (On May 17, the first 500 cars to go through the simulated distribution center received bottled water, wrenches that can be used to shut off water and gas values, coloring books, emergency preparation educational literature and other materials.)
Wednesday, May 18
The EMT worked with the American Red Cross and Salvation Army to set up a "reception center."
Thursday, May 19
The reception center was in operation at the Independence Events Center (19100 East Valley View Parkway, Independence, Missouri 64055). The center was where people evacuated from the "disaster" were sent to register and get information about finding food, water and shelter.
Also, the EMT worked with the American Red Cross to run a 500-bed shelter at the Remnant Church at 2820 South Highway 291 in Independence. At the same location, the EMT worked with Independence Animal Control to operate an emergency shelter for pets -- a shelter that included a gated area for larger animals.
Friday, May 20
The EMT consulted with the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency and other state and federal agencies as part of an in-depth review of the week-long exercise.