(CBS) — The biggest earthquake on the continent was in Illinois, so public safety agencies are running a simulation this week to make sure the state is prepared, reports WBBM’s Nancy Harty.

It was 200 years ago and the effects of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake along the New Madrid fault were felt well beyond southern Illinois.

“It rang church bells in Boston and reversed the flow of the Mississippi River, so it was strong enough that if something like that were to happen today, it would be catastrophic,” said Illinois Emergency Management director Jonathon Monken.

Monken says the Capstone drill will allow public safety, private sector and volunteer groups to build on the last simulation.

“2011 was really just an opportunity to try and conceptualize and wrap our arms around the scope and magnitude of the problem. Now we are really digging into some of the finer points of the issues,” said Monken.

Monken says even if the quake didn’t knock items off shelves in and around Chicago, it would knock out gas pipelines and the electrical grid.

He says it’s not clear what triggers earthquakes in the Midwest, but due to bedrock here they are felt much further out than those on the West Coast.

Federal agencies are working with Illinois and seven other states in the week-long drill.

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