Earthquake Drill Held For Illinois, 9 Other States

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.

  • susieq

    For some reason, people feel it could never happen to them. Until a year or so ago, I did not know Charleston SC was on a fault. Too many people unaware of their surroundings. No one ever thought our economy could get this bad, but look at what we have. Wake up America, you are not immune to anything nor are you entitled.

    • Nicole Cederholm


  • Gina Pocan

    I don’t know how a drill will keep us safe, after all, if its an earthquake, and its big enough, theres not much you can do, its not like you can run from it. If the Earth is gonna swallow you up, thats what its gonna do anyway no matter how prepared you are. You can hide from a tornado, might be able to run from a flood, or a fire, but an earthquake? I doubt it.

  • Bill S.

    Trust me … the people of Evanston, whose pols seem to think an earthquake is a far-fetched thing … you will swallow your elitist thoughts when the tsunami comes off the lake and drowns the citizens. An earthquake of epic proportions will hit soon — in our Chicagoan lifetimes. Bet on it.

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