September 27, 2021

Missouri National Guard to host regional earthquake exercise at Jefferson Barracks on Oct. 2

SAVE Coalition and Missouri National Guard to simulate structural assessments that would occur in event of a massive earthquake damage in New Madrid Seismic Zone

Many buildings in eastern and southern Missouri, including in the St. Louis area, would likely sustain damage if a catastrophic earthquake occurred in the New Madrid Seismic Zone. To prepare for this possibility, structural experts from throughout the region will practice their response to a simulated massive earthquake in St. Louis County on Saturday, Oct. 2.

The event, to be held at Jefferson Barracks in south St. Louis County, will be conducted by the Missouri Structural Assessment and Visual Evaluation (SAVE) Coalition. The coalition is a group of more than 1,000 volunteer engineers, architects and building officials that are trained to quickly determine which buildings are safe to use and which should be evacuated after a disaster. The Missouri National Guard will host and participate in the exercise.

“A major earthquake is the worst-case scenario for structural damage,” SAVE Coalition Board Chair Joe Leahy said. “Recent earthquakes in Puerto Rico, Haiti and Mexico are just the latest examples. This exercise will provide us with an excellent opportunity to train our team.  During a real event, our volunteers quickly deploy to determine whether buildings are safe to enter, including if they can be occupied. Unlike other disasters, an earthquake occurs without warning, so it’s especially important to be ready in advance.”

About 100 participants from Missouri and surrounding states, including Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee, as well as the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium, will be involved in the exercise. Participants will assess buildings on-site with simulated earthquake damage using digital technology that allows for live reporting of results that will display in the operations center. Civil Air Patrol drones will also be used to capture aerial views of “damaged” buildings.

The Missouri State Emergency Management Agency helps coordinate activities of the SAVE Coalition, whose members have assisted the state during numerous disasters, including the May 2011 Joplin tornado and the May 2019 Jefferson City tornado.

The New Madrid Seismic Zone, centered in southeast Missouri, produced some of the largest earthquakes in U.S. history from 1811 to 1812. It’s also the most active seismic zone east of the Rocky Mountains, with about 200 small earthquakes occurring each year. Scientists say there’s a 25 to 40 percent chance of a major earthquake occurring in this zone in a 50-year timeframe.


Saturday, October 2, 2021

When: 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. or 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Where: Jefferson Barracks

              12 Hancock Avenue, St. Louis, Mo.

Media: Must RSVP at least 48 hours in advance


For more information, call 573-751-6294 or e-mail