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GENE ROBERTSON: A plan for earthquakes needs to be developed on local, county and state levels

Sunday, March 20, 2011 | 5:07 p.m. CDT

Can anyone imagine an earthquake in Missouri, with sirens going off and no one able to quickly determine whether the sirens are a drill or not before it's too late? Communication might be threatened, ground cables might be disrupted by the eruptions, satellites might also be disrupted.

Persons working in communication centers might not get access to their facilities or they might choose to be at home with their families. Communication lines might be flooded, if they are available. What could be communicated? Where can people go?

Many of us know what to do in case of an impending tornado. What do we do with an impending warning that is only a minute in advance and we haven’t planned for it? What good is it? Do we all run to Interstate 70? Where would we be going? Would people be trying to get here? For what? What do we do if we choose to stay put? What are the power, transportation, health and subsistence options available to us? Income, class, race, location are mute when it comes to a disaster. They don’t mean anything. It affects all of us. Remember Katrina?

Are we prepared if we all don’t have a plan? Who’s in charge of what? Public and private institutions should be concerned.

I previously wrote about the need to have such a plan. What is our state, city, county, neighborhood, family plan? What is the health and hospital plan? When do we address these general issues when we learn we only have a minute’s notice? If we are going to address this issue, we might also use the organization to address less ominous issues in our community. 

William E. "Gene" Robertson is a Columbia resident and a professor emeritus at MU.

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Comments

Delcia Crockett March 21, 2011 | 5:08 a.m.

Very compelling questions raised by this writer. Considering the seriousness of the topic, it would be great to see a follow-up with answers to all these questions, or least a discussion about what to do in an emergency situation [such as stated here] concerning possibilities of where to go and what to do. I agree that some sort of awareness preparation should be in place for our community. We live one house down from the emergency siren that goes off (loudly and for such an extended period of time until it is almost deafening to anyone near) every first Wednesday of each month at noon. We wonder, perhaps if they are only testing it to see if it works, why they have to sound it so loudly and for so long a period of time? It may not seem like long to them, but if anyone is near it, it is ear-bursting of noise proportions. If it were an emergency, it would be sounding at any other time than the noon on the first Wednesday, and it would be understandable why it would be so loud and for such an extended period of time. Perhaps this could be one distinction that is made in time of emergency to indicate citizens should be moving into action - and then citizens need to know the action to take in the emergency described in this writer's article. But for testing, the siren be brief, or quieter, as well as shorter. Very good questions are raised in the above article, and it would be great to see some answers on this one.

(Report Comment)
Dennis Kidwell March 21, 2011 | 6:53 a.m.

Such planning is already in process. Many federal, state, local agencies and volunteer organizations are already in planning for a National Level Exercise to be held in May of 2011 (NLE 2011). This exercise is to practice for a response to an earthquake that occurs in the New Madrid fault zone.

Perhaps a reporter should be assigned to the NLE 2011 to enhance the awareness of what is being done. A good place to start would be the state of missouri State Emergency Management (SEMA)

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock March 21, 2011 | 10:11 a.m.

Excellent post Dennis. In the National Guard we call it Operation Cracked Earth.

(Report Comment)
Delcia Crockett March 21, 2011 | 11:56 p.m.

Thanks for the information on this. How fast are we moving along on it, and how soon will we be ready to handle something like this? I agree that a good investigative reporter could be placed with these questions in mind to get this sort of alert to the public - as to exactly what could be done and how to go about it - in safety and survival enactment, should/when the actual event/tragedy occur.

(Report Comment)

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