JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Department of Transportation will join more than 2.4 million people on Thursday to participate in the 2013 Great Central U.S. ShakeOut, an earthquake preparation drill.
Missouri is one of nine states taking part in the ShakeOut, which is being held on the 201 anniversary of the largest earthquake to ever occur in Missouri. MoDOT officials stated in a press release that the main focus of the drill is to prepare and practice for a major earthquake.
This new plan will also allow the department employees to work at every MoDOT location and run through its emergency response plan for earthquakes.
MoDOT stated in a press release that its top priority is getting highways open for emergency response and restore traffic as soon as it's safe and possible.
Maintaining Missouri's bridges after an earthquake is a particular concern for the department. Since the 1990s, seismic design elements have been built into most new bridges, according to MoDOT.
Cape Girardeau's Bill Emerson Bridge and the new Mississippi River Bridge currently under construction in St. Louis both contain this design element. Other key bridges, such as the double-decked section of Interstate 64 in downtown St. Louis, have been retrofitted.
The New Madrid Seismic Zone, centered in southeast Missouri, is the nation's most active earthquake zone east of the Rocky Mountains. At least three of the largest earthquakes in the history of the U.S. are believed to have occurred in that area in 1811 and 1812.
MoDOT stated the largest of the quakes was centered in the southeast Missouri town of New Madrid and occurred on Feb. 7, 1812. A major New Madrid Seismic Zone earthquake would likely be felt throughout Missouri, as well as nearby states to the south and east.
For more information visit the official ShakeOut website or for earthquake tips feel free to visit the State Emergency Management Agency website.