Schools plan earthquake drill, despite low risk here


Evanston/Skokie School District 65 officials sent a letter to parents this week announcing plans to hold earthquake preparedness drills at district schools Feb. 7.

The drills, being held across the central part of the nation that day, are sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

FEMA's earthquake "Shake Out" website urges participants to "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" — concepts that may be familiar to former children of a certain age who remember in-school Civil Defense drills to prepare for anticipated nuclear attacks in the 1950s and '60s.

So what's the level of risk that Evanston faces from earthquakes?

Well, based on a map of earthquake hazards published on the FEMA website (and reproduced in part above) — our risk is pretty low.

While portions of southern Illinois are affected by the well known New Madrid fault — the map shows that all of Cook County is in the lowest risk area with what FEMA says is a "very small probability of experiencing damaging earth­quake effects."

But Evanston does have many older school buildings, and FEMA says that, compared to buildings constructed to meet modern earthquake design guidelines, they can pose relatively more risk to occupants if a quake does hit.

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