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Earthquake drill begins today

Earthquake drill begins today
NASHVILLE — State and local emergency agencies are holding a large-scale drill today through Wednesday to exercise how they would respond should a catastrophic earthquake again cause devastation in Tennessee.
The exercise, known as TNCAT ’12, began this morning when Tennessee experienced a simulated 7.7 magnitude earthquake inside the New Madrid Seismic Zone near Memphis.
This initiated the start of an emergency that, were it real, involves numerous state and local agencies, and private-sector concerns, and would affect thousands of Tennesseans and inflict hundreds of millions of dollars of damage across the state.
“We’re talking about a life-altering event, for all of us who live in Tennessee and for the economic prosperity of our nation,” said Jim Bassham, director of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, the agency responsible for the state’s catastrophic earthquake plan and TNCAT ’12’s exercise design.
“Tennessee has many years of experience responding to tornadoes, floods and ice storms,” he said. “A catastrophic earthquake will present a set of very large challenges, such as damage estimation, search and rescue operations, and generally being able to move supplies into the affected area. We have to practice to be ready and to identify any gaps we need to fill in our response.”
TNCAT ’12 will focus on three areas of the state’s catastrophic earthquake plan: managing the process of obtaining and transporting life-saving supplies into the affected area; establishing emergency communications at the state and local level; and tracking the movement of medical supplies from a distribution point to a hospital.
Other state agencies participating in TNCAT ’12 include the Tennessee Departments of Health, Safety, Transportation, Environment and Conservation, and Health and Human Services. Local agencies playing in the exercise include the Dickson County Emergency Management Agency, Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency, Humphreys County Emergency Management Agency and Three Rivers Hospital in Waverly.
“Preparedness is really everyone’s responsibility,” said Tennessee Department of Health commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD. “Along with emergency agencies, every able person should do all he or she can do to be ready for the major earthquake none of us wants to see — but we all know may happen one day. This exercise demonstrates the strong commitment by TEMA, and other critical response and recovery agencies and organizations, to help Tennesseans be aware of the challenges we’ll face and how we all need to be prepared.”
This year marks the 200th anniversary of a series of catastrophic earthquakes that struck New Madrid, Mo., and changed the geography of the central U.S. forever. Since 1973, United States Geological Survey data shows there have been 163 earthquakes within 155 miles of the New Madrid Seismic Zone.
For more information, visit Published in The Messenger 7.9.12

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