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Central takes part in ‘Shake Out’

Central School District students participated in an annual worldwide drill aimed at preparing communities for the possibility of future earthquakes Thursday morning.

The “Great ShakeOut” is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the United States Geological Survey and the National Science Foundation. The ShakeOut is broken up into regions, with more than 2.7 million registered participants in the Central region, encompassing 14 states in the Midwest and southern United States.

The drills involved students learning to quickly drop, cover and hold on in the event of an earthquake.

Middle School Principal and District Safety Coordinator Lori England said the drills are pretty straightforward and also build on things taught in other drills.

“There’s a variety of choices about how extensive you want to get,” she said. “The main thing is getting on the intercom, announcing the drill, and we play a ShakeOut video over the intercom, saying what to do: duck and cover, hold on to an object in the classroom.”

“Our teachers will talk about the procedures that will happen afterwards,” she said. “Hopefully the practicing of the drill will kick in and then afterwards, observe the environment and see how to get out of the building as safely as possible.”

She said the drills take place in the classrooms, with a lot of verbal instruction about what to do in the instance of an earthquake. With other drills such as fire, tornado or intruder, evacuation is included as well.

St. Francois County lies in what is known as the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ), which produced the famous earthquakes in 1811-1812 that reportedly caused the Mississippi River to flow backward.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “There is broad agreement in the scientific community that a continuing concern exists for a major destructive earthquake in the New Madrid seismic zone.”

There is constant activity in the seismic zone, but the quakes are often too weak to be felt. According to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, these microseismic earthquakes of magnitudes less than 1.0 to about 2.0 occur an average of every other day and more than 200 per year.

The Missouri DNR also says the region appears to be overdue for a magnitude 6.3 quake, because the last such earthquake occurred more than 100 years ago in October 1895. The department says the probability of a repeat of the 1811-1812 earthquake, of magnitude 7.5-8.0 is estimated to be between 7 and 10 percent.

While epicenter of such a quake would be in Missouri’s bootheel, St. Francois County would also be affected. The Mercalli Scale is a measurement of real-world effects of earthquakes, with St. Francois County being estimated to fall in the middle of that scale, with damage to buildings and human life possible.

For more information about what to do to prepare for and to respond to an earthquake, visit

Students in Sara Cole's first grade class demonstrate how to respond in the event of an earthquake, as learned during the Great ShakeOut earthquake drill on Thursday.

Students in Sara Cole’s first grade class demonstrate how to respond in the event of an earthquake, as learned during the Great ShakeOut earthquake drill on Thursday.

Jacob Scott is a reporter with the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3616 or at

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