RALEIGH — North Carolina will take part in the region’s first earthquake exercise this fall, a little more than a year after the state was shaken by a 5.8-magnitude quake centered in Virginia.
The drill, dubbed “The Southeast Shakeout,” is scheduled for Oct. 18 and will involve emergency officials from North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Georgia.
The event will be similar to the tornado drill held each spring, except there won’t be a test of the Emergency Alert System to announce it because earthquakes occur without warning. At 10:18 a.m., schools, businesses and residents will be encouraged to take a few minutes to rehearse what they would do in a quake.
What you should do is pretty simple: drop to the ground, take cover under a sturdy desk or table, and hold on until the shaking stops. Stay away from bookshelves, lamps, TVs, cabinets and other objects that may fall. And don’t run outside, where the moving ground and falling objects will make moving around dangerous.
“While earthquakes in North Carolina are rare, they do happen,” state Emergency Management Director Doug Hoell said in a statement. “Even earthquakes in other areas can send shockwaves across our state, as we experienced last year. We want to be sure people know what to do to protect themselves.”
Last year’s quake, on Aug. 23, was centered near Mineral, Va., about 40 miles northwest of Richmond. It did “moderately heavy” damage to buildings in rural Louisa County, Va., and less serious damage to some structures farther away, including the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
It was felt as far away as Canada and Florida, and it caused a flood of 911 calls in the Triangle.
Since then, four small quakes have occurred in North Carolina, all in the western half of the state, according to state officials. Two of them, one in Union County in March and one in Macon County in June, were strong enough that some residents reported feeling the ground shake.