Ill. students participate in earthquake drill

April 28, 2011 10:01:15 AM PDT
The earth wasn't rumbling but people sure were scrambling when an earthquake drill Thursday sent workers and students ducking for cover and evacuating.

The Great Shakeout got students moving and squatting under their desks. The only thing missing at the Bartolome De Las Casas Charter School was the earthquake. From there to the Willis Tower it's one of hundreds of schools and businesses across the state and midsection of the country involved in the drill. At least 200,000 people were hanging on tight in illinois.

"We can't provide any rumbling sounds, but we have instilled in them the importance of being prepared and taking it seriously," said Kathleen Kelly Colgan, director, Bartolome De Las Casas.

At first students were confused and a little scared about the drill, but now they say they're more prepared. They were prepped to "drop, cover and hold on," then evacuate properly out of the school , which could be unstable.

"Right here, we don't usually get earthquakes, we just get tornadoes sometimes, so that's why we do fire drills and tornado drills. We never do earthquake drills," said student Juan Parra, fourth grade.

"Really what it's designed to do is make people aware of the threat of earthquakes that exists in the central United States. Many people may think there may not be a major threat that does exist, but we have the New Madrid seismic zone. And so, because f that we want to make sure people understand exactly what they should be doing in the event of an earthquake," said

Some skeptics say there may not be a need for an earthquake drill in our area because a severe earthquake is highly unlikely But emergency responders say it doesn't hurt to be prepared.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is encouraging people in and around the New Madrid fault zone to participate. Schools and businesses will drop, cover and hold on, taking cover under a sturdy desk or table. Some schools will use sound effects on loudspeakers.

The area is no stranger to earthquakes. In 2008, A 5.2-magnitude quake struck downstate, and in 2010 a 3.8 shook Pingree Grove, illinois. Neither caused severe damage, but both were felt in Chicago.

The earthquake drill started at 10:15 a.m.