South Carolina has experienced ten recognizable earthquake events in the past year, according to the state Emergency Management Division.
“The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) ranks South Carolina as one of the 16 states having a high risk of having a major earthquake some time in the next 50 years, Division director Kim Stenson said. “So it’s a very real threat here in South Carolina.”
The most damaging earthquake in the eastern United States hit Charleston in 1886. The magnitude 7.3 earthquake was felt as far away as Cuba, New York and the Mississippi River.
Because earthquakes come without warning, SCEMD officials want the public to prepare and know what to do if one hits. A statewide drill on Thursday encouraged participants to stop whatever they were doing at that moment to “drop, cover and hold.” That is, drop onto the floor; take cover under a sturdy desk, table or other furniture; then hold onto it and be prepared to move with it.
And because quakes hit without warning, earthquake preparation is different than preparation for other disasters.
“We don’t have earthquakes that often here in South Carolina, obviously, or the nation,” Stenson said. “But it’s so important to be prepared… These are no-notice. We’re not going to have a lot of time. We’re not going to see the hurricane marching across the Atlantic… So it’s even more important to have a plan for an earthquake situation.”
That lack of preparation also means that the South Carolina National Guard will not be on duty and ready to anticipate the disaster like they are for hurricanes, snowstorms, or other disasters.
“That initial response is going to be by the local community,” Deputy Adjutant General Van McCarty said. “It’s going to be by the local individuals until we’re able to call up those resources and get them into position and be able to go into those affected areas.”
So until help arrives, each person is responsible for their own safety in an earthquake.
“That preparedness by the individual is more important here than anything else because you’re going to be on your own until we can get those resources,” McCarty said. “These type of situations that we routinely prepare and have available to us in a hurricane, or even a winter storm type event, will not be in place if we have an earthquake.”
More than 412,000 South Carolina residents registered to participate in the Great ShakeOUT earthquake drill Thursday, an increase in participation of 45 percent from 2017.
Click here for a link to SCEMD’s Earthquake Guide. Click here for more information on earthquakes in South Carolina. SCEMD also recommends you download the free emergency manager app to your smartphone. Go to your phone’s app store to download.