Graves County Schools’ students, faculty, staff prepare, plan, participate in 2018 Great ShakeOut earthquake drills

 Graves County Schools’ students, faculty, and staff were among nearly 20 million Americans and more than 3 million others worldwide who participated in the 2018 Great ShakeOut earthquake drills Thursday, Oct. 18. 

“We strive to utilize opportunities such as the Great ShakeOut whenever they occur,” said Christy Puckett, the school district’s director of pupil personnel. “When events and anniversary dates draw national and even worldwide attention to a topic, it heightens awareness and provides teachable moments that often are very memorable.” 

Graves County’s schools conducted drills at 10:18 a.m. Thursday, the 18th day of the tenth month of the year – October 2018. The drill included a run-through of “duck and cover” methods. Teachers instructed students to seek cover under desks and tables during the brief drill. Instruction both before and after it amplified awareness and provided practice of procedures.

Western Kentucky is among parts of eight states located on the New Madrid Fault Zone that comprise a region among those areas with the highest probability for catastrophic consequences due to an earthquake. Other New Madrid Fault Zone states include Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and even Indiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. 

The United States Geological Survey notes on its website, https://earthquake.usgs.gov, that between Dec. 16, 1811, and Jan. 23, 1812, three primary earthquake shocks occurred. They ranged from between Magnitude 7.3 and M 7.5 on the Richter Scale. Another aftershock followed on the adjoining Reelfoot Fault Feb. 7, 1812. A series of at least three other large aftershocks, ranging from M 6.0 to M 6.5 then followed that Feb. 7, 1812, aftershock.

“This would make a total of seven earthquakes of M 6.0-M 7.5 occurring in the period December 16, 1811, through February 7, 1812, according to the website. It also reports the occurance of “… more than 200 moderate to large aftershocks in the New Madrid region between December 16, 1811, and March 15, 1812: ten of these were greater than about M 6.0; about one hundred were between M 5.0 and M 5.9; and eighty-nine were in the Magnitude 4 range.”

The prescient nature of waiting so long for an earthquake on the New Madrid Fault Zone sometimes inspires complacency because if something – however important – is out of sight, it’s also easy to put out of mind. The Great ShakeOut, in contrast, makes the possibility very real. Educators hope the lessons learned are, in fact, so real, hands-on, and memorable that students will draw upon them if – and when – an earthquake causes those skills to make a difference. 

(photo caption)
Graves County Central Elementary School students in teacher Nick Kemp’s fourth-grade class duck and cover during the 2018 Great ShakeOut earthquake drill Thursday, Oct. 18. Everyone in the Graves County School District participated in the national drill, moments after principal Tiffany Williams provided these students instructions to follow. Educators hope the lessons prove memorable in the event of an earthquake. Experts say such an “event” is long overdue on the New Madrid Fault Zone that runs through Graves County. 
(photo by Paul Schaumburg, Graves County Schools)

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