ST. LOUIS – U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today joined leaders from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), state and local officials, and more than three million Americans across the central United States to participate in the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut— the largest-ever, multi-state earthquake drill to be held in the United States, and the first major drill to take place along the New Madrid Seismic Zone, which was the site of one of the worst earthquakes in U.S. history nearly 200 years ago.
“The devastating storms and tornadoes that have impacted our nation this week are a vivid reminder that disasters of all kinds can strike at any time, and it is vital that all members of our nation’s emergency management team—including the American public—are prepared.” said Secretary Napolitano. “The Great Central U.S. Shakeout exercise will help millions of Americans know how to protect themselves in the event of an earthquake and strengthen the resiliency of communities across the central United States.”
“The safety of our nation’s children is everyone’s responsibility,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Community leaders, elected officials and educators need to work together to make sure their schools and communities are prepared to respond to earthquakes and other natural disasters.”
Secretaries Napolitano and Duncan joined Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to participate in this morning’s drill with school officials and students at Carnahan High School of the Future in St. Louis. In total, 2,644 K-12 schools and 117 colleges participated in the ShakeOut, along with businesses, local, state and federal government agencies, child care centers, and many other organizations. Ten states participated in today’s drill, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee; Indiana conducted their drill last Tuesday, April 19, 2011.
Leading FEMA officials also traveled to participating states today to join ShakeOut drills, with FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino participating in a ShakeOut event at Milford Elementary School in Georgia, and FEMA Deputy Administrator for Protection and National Preparedness Tim Manning joining students for a ShakeOut drill at Jones Elementary School in Oklahoma.
While in St. Louis, Secretary Napolitano and Secretary Duncan expressed their condolences for the tragic loss of life and suffering caused by severe storms and tornadoes in Missouri and throughout the Southeast region, and stressed the important role that individuals play in building a national culture of readiness and resilience—encouraging Americans to learn what they can do to help their families, businesses and communities be prepared and stay safe in any emergency.
The ShakeOut was organized to help individuals and organizations be better prepared for major earthquakes, and to raise public awareness of the “Drop, Cover, Hold On” method of protecting ourselves during an earthquake. To learn more about the ShakeOut, visit: http://www.shakeout.org/centralus/. To learn more about how you can prepare for earthquakes and other emergencies, visit www.ready.gov