August 18, 2016

Missouri disaster response planning exercise focuses on evacuating and sheltering victims of a New Madrid Seismic Zone earthquake

Several local emergency management agencies across Missouri will participate in “Show-Me Mass Care” exercise from Aug. 22-24

From Aug. 22-24, Missouri emergency managers and disaster responders will tests plans for evacuating and sheltering potential victims of a catastrophic New Madrid Seismic Zone earthquake. The exercise will involve state, local and federal officials, along with volunteer and faith-based groups, simulating how they would assist survivors of a major southeast Missouri earthquake move out of the region and into temporary shelters around the state.

“In the past, Missouri has exercised how we would respond to the immediate aftermath of a catastrophic earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone affecting southeast Missouri,” said State Emergency Management Director Ron Walker. “What’s important about this exercise is that we will be testing planning and operations for the period beginning three days after a major quake hit – when survivors without homes and critical services would be moving from the impacted areas to shelters around the state. This would require tremendous resources and coordination.”

The exercise, called “Show-Me Mass Care,” will involve more than 50 state and federal partner agencies in what is known as a National Mass Care Series Exercise. In addition to SEMA, the state agencies participating include: Missouri State Highway Patrol, Missouri National Guard, Missouri Department of Transportation and Department of Health and Senior Services. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is the sponsor and other federal agencies that would respond to such a large-scale event will also participate. This is the fifth exercise in the national series and the first to be held in a non-coastal region of the U.S. 

Missouri’s NMSZ earthquake response evacuation plan includes the following four components, which will be exercised during the four-day drill:

Evacuation Assembly Sites – pre-identified assembly sites, locally operated and used during initial stages of an evacuation. Temporary assistance to meet basic human needs may be provided.

Consolidated Assistance Sites – state and federally supported locations along priority evacuation routes where basic needs of evacuees are assessed and from where they can be directed to shelter locations.  

Emergency Respite Sites – located along primary evacuation routes, these provide snacks and water, fuel and basic vehicle repair, basic medical care, short-term rest to continue evacuation process. 

Evacuee Reception Centers – Receive evacuees in a location with a range of government and private sector resources, these have the ability to fully assess needs and direct to appropriate shelter locations.

Leadership from state, federal and faith-based and volunteer organizations that would be involved in management and coordination of a disaster response will participate in Jefferson City for all three days of the exercise. Different regions of the state will participate in the exercise on different days, moving east to west, from Aug. 22 to 24. Here is the order of the exercise (regions correspond with Missouri State Highway Patrol troop locations):

Aug. 22 – Regions C and E, in eastern Missouri, participate;

Aug. 23 – Regions F, G and I, in central to south-central Missouri, participate;

Aug. 24 – Regions A, D and H, in western Missouri, participate.

Local agencies will determine their level of participation, ranging from tabletop exercises, in which key personnel gather and discuss the implications of a mass earthquake on their region, to full scale exercises in which actual operations may be simulated with volunteers playing the roles of evacuees.