SPRINGFIELD – Illinois and several other Central U.S. states will join federal agencies, volunteer organizations and the private sector in a large-scale earthquake exercise June 16-20. The exercise will test state, regional and national response and recovery capabilities for a major earthquake in the New Madrid and Wabash Valley seismic zones.
“A catastrophic earthquake would cause massive destruction throughout the region, affecting millions of people,” said Jonathon Monken, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). “Roads, bridges, utilities, communications networks and other critical infrastructure would be seriously damaged, if not completely destroyed. This would present incredibly difficult challenges for emergency responders throughout the region.”
Monken said the CAPSTONE-14 exercise is one of the largest homeland security or emergency management exercises ever conducted. It will enable participants to examine state, federal and private sector plans and procedures for responding to and recovering from a catastrophic event.
States participating in the CAPSTONE-14 exercise include Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. The states are members of the Central United States Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC), which led the three-year planning process for the CAPSTONE-14 exercise. Several CUSEC associate states also will participate in the exercise. Monken serves as chairman of the CUSEC board.
Federal participants include the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Northern Command, Federal Aviation Administration, Illinois National Guard and U.S. Geological Survey.
Illinois’ exercise activities will be supported by participation from many state agencies and statewide response organizations participating in the State Incident Response Center (SIRC) in Springfield; private sector and volunteer organizations participating through virtual and physical Business Emergency Operations Centers; and a Joint Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration (JRSOI) for processing response teams before and after deployment.
During the first four days of the exercise, Illinois will focus on alert and notification; situational awareness; communications; mutual aid and interstate assistance requests; response coordination; evacuation; mass care; medical surge; and volunteers and donations management.
On the final day, IEMA will host a facilitated discussion to explore policies, procedures and resources needed to address long-term recovery issues, such as housing, restoration of schools, government services and industry, economic recovery and more.
In all, nearly 200 people will participate in Illinois’ portion of the CAPSTONE-14 exercise. Nearly 50 private sector businesses and organizations throughout the multi-state region also are taking part in the exercise.
Monken said history shows a large-scale earthquake in the Central U.S. is a very real possibility. During the winter of 1811-12, a series of earthquakes in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, each estimated to be around magnitude 8.0, were among the largest temblors ever recorded in North America.
More information about the earthquake risk affecting Illinois and preparedness tips are available on the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.