Many Virginians remember where they were and how they reacted Aug. 23, 2011, when an historic 5.8 earthquake centered in Louisa County knocked homes and buildings from foundations, destroyed schools and heavily damaged the Washington Monument.
“We learned unexpectedly what the safe response to an earthquake is, and it’s not to run outside,” said Jeff Stern, state coordinator of emergency management. “Since the Mineral earthquake, Virginia has participated every year in a multi-state earthquake drill so we all can practice and remember to drop, cover and hold on.”
Virginia first began participating in the Great SouthEast ShakeOut multistate earthquake drill in 2012. During the drill, people practice “Drop, Cover and Hold On,” the best response to an earthquake in the U.S. This year’s ShakeOut is set for Thursday, Oct. 16, at 10:16 a.m.
Individuals and families, schools and colleges, businesses and organizations can sign up for the ShakeOut at www.ReadyVirginia.gov or www.shakeout.org/southeast. Those who register will get information about how to plan a drill and practice these recommended actions should an earthquake occur:
• Drop to the ground where you are
• Take Cover under a sturdy table or desk if possible, protecting your head and neck
• Hold On until the shaking stops
Last year, one million Virginians took part in the Great SouthEast ShakeOut, a simultaneous earthquake drill held in the southeastern U.S. to coincide with drills held in other states and several countries, giving the effect of a rolling drill.
Results of 2011 Mineral earthquake in Virginia:
• In late July 2014, Louisa County opened a new Thomas Jefferson Elementary School to replace a school severely damaged by the earthquake, with funding partially provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
• In May 2014, the Washington Monument reopened after years of repairs that cost $15 million. The U.S. Congress funded half and the rest came from a private donation.
• In August 2013, groundbreaking was held for a new Louisa County High School to replace the county’s high school that was extensively damaged. Construction is expected to be completed in August 2015 with FEMA providing partial funding.
• Nearly 4,500 individuals and business owners in Louisa County and surrounding localities received more than $14 million in grants and loans from FEMA and the Small Business Administration to help repair damage and recover from the earthquake.