County prepares for the ‘big one’

County prepares for the ‘big one’

At 10:15 a.m. on Thursday, April 28, there will be an earthquake. Guaranteed.

A simulated earthquake, that is, but nonetheless, individuals, businesses, schools and other groups across the country will be participating in an event known as the Great Shakeout with the goal of getting the country better prepared for a major earthquake and practicing how to abide by rules to ensure maximum protection against these disastrous natural occurrences.

The State of Tennessee will be participating as part of an eight-state drill making up the Great Central U.S. Shakeout. Other states participating in this specific drill are Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina. 

Statistics on participants continue to increase by the second, but currently, 1.4 million people are participating with 207,387 coming from the State of Tennessee. 

Given the recent earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand prior to that, Lorna Benson of Weakley County Safe and Drug Free Schools feels especially pressed to get Weakley County School students involved. 

She first heard about the Great Shakeout through the fire marshal, John Garrido, last year and since that time, she’s discussed with the possibility of Weakley County Schools’ involvement in the project with Weakley County E911 Director Jamison Peevyhouse. 

“I shared information about it with the principals and asked them to post the web-banner on their home page so parents could be directed to the site for home planning materials,” Benson explained. “Jamison and the Weakley County Emergency Management office distributed earthquake kits to every school. We are so grateful!”

A basic emergency supply kit includes items such as:

• Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation;

• Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food;

• Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both;

• Flashlight and extra batteries;

• First aid kit;

• Whistle to signal for help;

• Dust mask – to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place;

• Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation;

• Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities;

• Can opener for food;

• Local maps;

• Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger.

Drill materials and resources have been forwarded to each school coordinator and the actual drill will be coordinated with the emergency management office plans. 

Historically, the western part of the State of Tennessee was strongly shaken by the New Madrid, Mo. earthquake of 1811-1812 and by quakes in 1843 and 1895. Additional activity has occurred in the eastern part of the state near the North Carolina border. The earthquakes on the New Madrid fault rank as some of the most destructive in U.S. history with a total area of at least five million square kilometers shaken. 

According to the main web site,, “Some estimates suggest that a major earthquake in the New Madrid zone would be a nationwide catastrophic event, largely due to the interruption in transportation, communications, fuel supply, and the economic consequences that would be experienced as a result of damage to the infrastructure.”

Earthquakes cannot be predicted nor can they be stopped, but with proper preparation and adherence to safety codes, understanding can be achieved and lives can be saved.

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