Great Oregon Shakeout Tests Kids, Hotels, Local Governments

The Great Oregon ShakeOut helps ensure people statewide are ready for an earthquake and know where to go and how to recover. More than 720,000 people signed up online to take part in the drill that lasted about a minute.

by Jordyn Brown, The Register-Guard, Eugene, Ore. / October 18, 2019
Ten-year-old Sophie Green, left, peeks out from under her desk as she joins other fifth-graders in an earthquake preparation drill at River Road/El Camino del Rio Elementary School in Eugene as part of the Great Oregon ShakeOut. TNS

(TNS) — People in schools, hotels, local government and even law enforcement participated in the Great Oregon ShakeOut on Thursday morning to practice earthquake preparedness.

The Great Oregon ShakeOut is a way to ensure people around the state are prepared in case of an earthquake and know where to go and how to recover.

More than 720,000 people signed up online to participate in the shakeout, with more than 54,000 in Lane County alone.

River Road/El Camino del Rio Elementary School in Eugene was one of 15,693 schools in the county to participate in the drill on Thursday. At 10:17 a.m. students in Alexis Screen's fifth-grade class heard an announcement about an earthquake drill and promptly climbed under their desks for cover.

The drill only lasted about a minute, but it was important to students to practice nonetheless so they don't panic in case of a real earthquake.

"I feel safe because when it actually happens, we know what to do and stay calm and we're not like, 'Oh no, we're gonna die!'" said 11-year-old Emma Green.

She and classmate Isaiah Cruz, 10, said this was their first drill of the year, but they always do a few each school year.

"It's kind of weird that the whole earth moves," Cruz said. "So it's kind of funny and also scary at the same time."

Their teacher had a way of helping students process their emotions about the potential for an earthquake though, making sure they know quakes can happen and are serious but also joking a bit, laughing along when kids called the balled-up position they're supposed to take with their hands over the back of their neck "chicken nugget style."

"There are a lot of little ones you don't always feel," Screen said. "There was an earthquake once when I was in elementary school and I woke up because it shook my socks off!"

Screen also passed out worksheets to students after the drill that asked them to brainstorm their instinct to the earthquake announcement, list the emotions they felt during the quake (if there were to be one), assess any damage and imagine ways they could fix problems left by a quake.

Oregon is overdue for a major earthquake that happens every hundred years, scientists say, because the state is over a fault called the Cascadia Subduction Zone. There's no telling when it will hit, but there are more than 1,000 earthquakes over a 1.0 magnitude in Washington and Oregon every year, "with at least two dozen being large enough to be felt," according to Oregon Emergency Management.

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