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Great American ShakeOut: Teaching Ozarks Children Lessons Learned Over 200 Years Ago

Children drill at Truman
Children "Drop, Cover, and Hold On," at Truman Elementary. Credit- Shane Franklin

Thursday Morning, local schools participated in the “Great Central U.S. ShakeOut” earthquake drill, along with an estimated 400,000 other Missourians. KSMU’s Shane Franklin visited Truman Elementary School during their drill, and has this story. 

“On this date in 1812, there was an earthquake in a place called New Madrid, southeast Missouri, over on the Mississippi River,” Dale Moore explained to Truman Elementary children.

Dale Moore is the public administration officer with the Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management. Moore says if you look at the science, it’s not a matter of if we will experience another earthquake on the scale of New Madrid, but when. 

“The New Madrid fault zone is a very active fault zone, much like the San Andreas over in the Pacific Rim. We’re 200 years now, plus, since the last big one that occurred, and chances are probably good that at some point, some time, maybe in our lifetime, maybe not, when we’ll see another New Madrid earthquake, and we need to be prepared for that.”

Moore seemed at ease, explaining this massive earthquake to the elementary children at Truman. The children listened intently. For many, this was their first time hearing of the massive earthquake that shook this region so many years ago. 

“In an earthquake, what will we do if our desk started shaking,” asks an elementary student at Truman.

“You’re gonna hang on! With an earthquake, when they happen, they don’t last very long,” replied Moore.

After a few minutes of discussion with the children, an announcement came on over the intercom.

 “We are doing our earthquake drill today, in conjunction with the Great American ShakeOut..”

The children then were instructed to get under their desks, to hold on tight and brace for the shaking. After a few moments under the desks, the all clear sounded, and class resumed.

Moore says that we have multiple hazard possibilities here in the Ozarks. He says that Thursday’s exercise brings awareness to the fact that while we don’t often think about earthquakes in this region, someday the simple steps of “Drop, Cover, and Hold On,” will be necessary to save lives.

For KSMU News, I’m Shane Franklin.