'ShakeOut' Organizers Plan Largest Earthquake Drill in U.S. History

The magnitude 5.4 earthquake that rocked southern California on Tuesday is about 5,000 times smaller than the magnitude 7.8 earthquake depicted in the "ShakeOut Earthquake Scenario," a new report portraying what could happen in a major earthquake on the southern end of the San Andreas Fault. The scenario is the basis of the Great Southern California ShakeOut, a week of special events featuring the largest earthquake drill in U.S. history on Nov. 13, 2008. Details are at www.ShakeOut.org.

"Yesterday's earthquake was a wake-up call--a reminder to us to make the important changes we need to survive the inevitable," said the U.S. Geological Survey's Dr. Lucy Jones, on Wednesday. Jones led the group of more than 300 experts who detailed the expected consequences of a hypothetical magnitude 7.8 earthquake that starts at the Salton Sea and ruptures northward along the San Andreas fault for 190 miles.

With 22 million people living and working in southern California, a major earthquake in the region could cause an unprecedented catastrophe. What we do now, before a big earthquake, will determine what our lives will be like after, experts say. With large earthquakes an inevitable part of their future, Southern Californians must act quickly to ensure that disasters do not become catastrophes.

ShakeOut drill organizers have a goal of at least 5 million participants, which will be the largest in American history. Registration for the event, which is free and open to everyone, is available at www.ShakeOut.org/register. Registered participants will receive information on how to plan their drill, connect with other participants, and encourage a dialogue with others about earthquake preparedness. There are many ways to take part, organizers say, but at the least participants should "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" at 10 a.m. on Nov. 13. More information is available at the ShakeOut.org site, as well as the official ShakeOut Blog at greatsocalshakeout.blogspot.com.

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