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Earthquake Drill Held For Illinois, 9 Other States

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UPDATED 04/28/11 11:30 a.m.

CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) – Residents of 10 Midwestern and Southern states took part in an earthquake drill called the Great Central U.S. Shakeout Thursday morning.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser reports, the drill was focused on the New Madrid Fault, which runs through southern Illinois.

It was a first-of-its-kind, better-safe-than-sorry event.

The drill commenced at 10:15 a.m., when nearly 3 million people pretended an earthquake was in progress.

Long ago, the New Madrid Fault produced four of the largest earthquakes ever recorded in North America, and for years, scientists have debated whether the fault would produce another seriously damaging quake.

But some institutions opted out, Northwestern University among them.

The Daily Northwestern reported the university decided to opt out, and a geophysicist at the school, Seth Stein, told the Chicago Tribune that such a drill is “pretty silly” in the Midwest.

Evanston city emergency preparedness manager Tom Janetske tells the Daily Northwestern that an earthquake is not of major concern for the near north suburb, given that it is located at the “farthest northern reach” of an earthquake.

Three earthquakes have been felt in the Chicago area in the past three years. The most recent was on Dec. 30 of last year, when Chicagoans felt a 3.8-magnitude earthquake centered about 15 miles east-southeast of Kokomo, Ind. and about 50 miles north-northeast of Indianapolis.

The epicenter was five miles southeast of the rural town of Greentown in Howard County, Ind. There was no serious damage or injuries, but a lot of shaking.

On Feb. 11, 2010, a 3.8-magnitude earthquake struck an epicenter 1 mile south-southeast of Pingree Grove, which is about 40 miles northwest of Chicago.

No serious damage was reported, but many people reported thinking they heard an explosion when the earthquake struck.

CBS 2’s Mary Kay Kleist was preparing the morning’s weather forecasts at the CBS 2 Broadcast Center at the time, when lights started moving in the studio, and, “suddenly, I thought a truck was going to hit the building.”

On April 18, 2008, a 5.2 magnitude earthquake struck with an epicenter about 7 miles from downstate Mt. Carmel, about 230 miles south of Chicago. That earthquake was felt around the state, including in Chicago. Downtown skyscrapers shook, but damage was mostly seen downstate.

The participating states in the Great Central U.S. Shakeout were Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

Do you think the earthquake drill was necessary in the Chicago area? Leave a comment below.

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