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Residents urged to participate in Great SouthEast ShakeOut

According to Halifax County Emergency Services Coordinator Kirby Saunders, nearly 600,000 Virginians and more than a million people nationwide are expected to take part in the Great SouthEast ShakeOut, the first simultaneous earthquake drill to be held in Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland and Washington, D.C. 

Participating locally are schools, governmental and non-governmental administrative offices, area businesses and private citizens who know that “practice makes perfect,” Saunders said.

Supervisor Chairman Tom West, South Boston Vice-Mayor Ed Owens and Halifax Mayor Dick Moore on Monday night adopted a proclamation declaring their localities’ participation in the Great SouthEast ShakeOut on Thursday.

The ShakeOut is a community drill, similar to the statewide tornado drill held in March that promotes earthquake preparedness.

In June of 2011, Halifax County experienced tremors and minor damages from a 5.8 magnitude earthquake originating from Mineral that prompted the need for this area to participate in the first drill of its kind on the East Coast.

Last year’s earthquake caused significant damage in Louisa County, and millions of dollars in damages in Washington, D.C.  

The proclamation signed by the two town representatives and supervisor chairman Monday night promotes the drill and the proper steps to take during an earthquake: “drop, cover and hold on.”

The ShakeOut is a dedicated time where individuals and communities focus on disaster safety and preparedness activities, Saunders explained.  

Participants in the ShakeOut are encouraged to take actions to become better prepared for earthquakes and other disasters; this includes securing heavy items to prevent them from causing injuries during an earthquake, creating an emergency plan or updating emergency supply kits and talking with their families and neighbors about how they might respond to an emergency.

Many ways are available for individuals, businesses, schools, faith-based organizations, community groups, scouts and others to participate in the ShakeOut, to get prepared for earthquakes and to share activities with others. 

To encourage participation, Governor Bob McDonnell proclaimed Thursday Earthquake ShakeOut Day.

“Most of us remember where we were Aug. 23, 2011, when the historic 5.8 magnitude quake rocked Louisa County, and many did not know the correct way to seek safety when the earthquake began,” said McDonnell.  “So I am asking all Virginians to take a few minutes to learn about earthquake safety and to participate in the Great SouthEast ShakeOut.  We should remember that the best reaction to an earthquake is to “drop, cover and hold on.” 

Emergency management and preparedness experts agree that drop, cover and hold on is the safe response to reduce injuries and deaths during earthquakes in the United States.

w Drop to the ground (before the earthquake drops you)

w Take cover under a sturdy desk or table, protecting your head and neck

w Hold on to it until the shaking stops

 “Whether you are at home, at school or at work on Thursday, I encourage you to stop whatever you are doing at 10:18 a.m. and take part in the Great SouthEast ShakeOut,” said McDonnell. “Earthquakes don’t give us warnings, and practicing what to do will help us all remember how to be safe the next time the ground shakes.”

The Great SouthEast ShakeOut drill is open to individuals, families, businesses, organizations, government agencies and schools and colleges.  Modeled after similar efforts held throughout the nation, the ShakeOut provides an opportunity to learn and practice the appropriate, safe response to an earthquake.  

Virginians can learn more about the ShakeOut at

For more information on the ShakeOut or how to participate in the drill, visit

Coordinating partners for the Great SouthEast ShakeOut include the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium and Federal Emergency Management Agency.