The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut, an elaborate drill simulating the response to a devastating earthquake with an epicenter in the Missouri "boot hill," has earned a major award from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Jackson County played a key role in the multi-state exercise, which was conducted earlier this year and has now won the "Outstanding, Drill, Exercise or Event" category of the 2011 FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Awards.
FEMA announced the award in a news release issued October 19.
"This was the largest natural disaster drill exercise ever held in the United States," Jackson County Emergency Preparedness Director Mike Curry said. "Jackson County was involved in the planning through every step of the actual exercises."
After years of planning, the ShakeOut started with an April 28 earthquake drill involving 11 states. Then in mid-May eight states participated in a week-long follow-up exercise that entailed testing communication systems and operating emergency response distribution centers as well as shelters.
Missouri was the lead state in exercise. The Eastern Jackson County Emergency Management Team (EMT) was the only agency in the nation that simulated a point of distribution site for handing out water and food, in addition to assisting in the set-up of a reception center for evacuees, a 500-bed shelter and a pet shelter.
The award marks the third consecutive year that the Eastern Jackson County EMT has been a national finalist for a FEMA award.
The New Madrid fault line extends 120 miles from it origins in southeastern Missouri and northeast Arkansas. The region was the scene of several powerful earthquakes in 1811 and 1812, and it remains an extremely active seismic zone with powerful earthquakes expected to occur in the region every 200 to 300 years.