Quake preparedness important — officials

Quake preparedness important — officials

Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2011 9:03 pm

By CHRIS MENEES
Staff Reporter
Obion County had an earthquake this week — sort of.
Two representatives from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency in Jackson visited Tuesday to put on an earthquake preparedness exercise — in a “tabletop exercise” format — for Obion County’s Local Emergency Planning Committee.
The event was staged in the conference room of the 911 office on South Home Street in Union City and included representatives from several communities and agencies throughout the county.
TEMA officials Mike Caudill and Andy Rose gave LEPC members a scenario of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake centered in Marked Tree, Ark., 90 air miles from Obion County. LEPC members worked through the scenario step by step and details were given by the TEMA officials as the exercise progressed.
In the scenario, LEPC members worked through the first two days but on the third day were hit with a 6.8 aftershock that destroyed all that had been accomplished the first two days.
Obion County Emergency Management director Dan-ny Jowers said the exercise involved activating the county’s Emergency Operations Center and performing an exercise developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
He said LEPC members gained a considerable amount of valuable information and now have a list of things to do in preparation in the event of an actual emergency.
“It was good information,” he said.
Jowers said the mock incident touched on areas that included how many people would be affected by being left homeless, a damage forecast for the area and the possibility of all schools being destroyed.
“It touched on everything,” he said, adding that local LEPC members can now build on the information and concentrate on some specific areas of need.

For example, one of the areas emphasized during the exercise was the need for local residents to have a food closet of supplies — including food and water — that can last a week or more for their family. Because a 6.6 earthquake is a state of emergency, residents should remember that banks and automatic teller machines will be shut down or restricted in use and there will be a need for cash.

Residents will also want to think about security for their homes, since an emergency situation could result in people stealing things to provide for their families when necessary, the LEPC members learned.
The website www.ready.gov has lists of items needed and helpful hints to use when preparing for an emergency.
Jowers said additional exercises will be planned in the year ahead, including a communications exercise in May in neighboring Gibson County and some exercises in local schools.
“During 2011, we will be doing a lot of exercises,” he said.
What is LEPC?
The LEPC is an organization mandated under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act and is responsible for emergency planning or what should be done in the event of an accidental hazardous material incident. Obion County’s LEPC has about 40 members, including elected officials, members of law enforcement, emergency management, fire departments, transportation, hospitals, the health department and representatives of the community, industry and media.
For more information, visit LEPC’s website at http://oclepc.wordpress.com.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by e-mail at cmenees@ucmessenger.com.

Published in The Messenger 3.17.11

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