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Safety Officials Practice Earthquake Response

Springfield and its residents have weathered an ice storm, survived tornados and fought through everything else in between... but would the city be ready for an earthquake?

KSMU's Matt Petcoff reports on what city officials did today (Tuesday) to prepare for a natural disaster most wouldn't even suspect...

Many safety officials and scientists are predicting that within the next 50 years an earthquake registering at least 6 point 6 on the Richter scale will strike along the New Madrid fault, located in Southeast Missouri.

So, throughout this week, emergency response officials across the state are playing a game of sorts that simulates their response to such a disaster.

Locally, officials met at the Springfield-Greene County office of emergency management.

They pretended that an earthquake registering 7 point 7 on the Richter scale struck the southeastern part of the state.

Major damage would be contained to that area, but officials say Springfield residents would still feel the tremors and see some damage.

Ryan Nichols is the Director of the Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management.

He says more than 25 local agencies were represented at the exercise.

They all had to work together to solve the problems that might arise here in Greene County.

A couple of the problems that were simulated during this exercise for Springfield-Greene County were a chlorine leak downtown and the collapse of the terminal at the Springfield-Branson Regional Airport.

Also, the dam at Fellows Lake was damaged leaving City Utilities water supply at less than 50 percent.

Gary Gibson is the Director of Distribution for C-U.

He says everyone involved in the exercise worked well together and he feels C-U is well prepared to handle such an event.

Nichols says he was very surprised to see how well everyone communicated, which can be difficult when you're coordinating officials from this many agencies.

He says when the exercise is complete a report will be compiled documenting everything that happened during the day.

What he hopes the public takes away from this exersice is how important an emergency plan can be... even for an earthquake.