County emergency officials are trying to bring emergency operations plans “up to speed,” which is one of the main goals of the exercise, said Wade.
“We’ve been doing the earthquake planning for several years now, and it even helped us back during the ice storm … and also during this recent flooding,” Wade said.
One possible danger to Land Between the Lakes could be the TransCanada pipeline, which carries natural gas and goes through the northern part of LBL. Wade said if that pipe ruptured in an earthquake, they would probably have to let it burn rather than cause an explosion due to gas buildup.
He also said that if everything on the pipeline is working properly, cutoff valves would shut off the flow of gas in the pipeline in the event of a rupture.
Among the scenarios considered was the problem of debris from a collapsing bridge damming one of the rivers, causing flooding, said Wade, who stressed that he was talking about flowing rivers, not Lake Barkley or Kentucky Lake.
One of the discussions centered around how communities would sustain sheltering activities for a year after the earthquake, how they would rebuild their infrastructure, and whether or not local businesses would be able to help.
The soil in Trigg County is largely limestone-based, so there would be shaking, but it isn’t like the soil in cities and counties nearer to the Mississippi, which is softer and more prone to liquefaction in the event of an earthquake, said Wade. Liquefaction occurs when soil loses its strength in an earthquake, which causes anything above that soil to sink.
As a result, a large part of the exercise in Trigg County focused not on earthquake damages within the county, but on damages to neighboring counties and our ability to take in refuges from those counties to the west, Wade said.
“They would be evacuating their people out of that area and coming up here, and we would be opening up shelters and also looking for long term housing for those folks,” Wade said. “We’re talking about total devastation over in the western counties.”
Trigg County Emergency Management would work directly with the Red Cross and the Trigg County Health Department in setting up those shelters, said Wade.
“We will help out in any way we can,” said Trigg County Sheriff Ray Burnam. He also said that while they didn’t play an active role in the exercise, they were asked if they would be able to commit any deputies to the western counties in the event of an earthquake.
Burnam added that he probably wouldn’t be able to commit any deputies to those counties without risking security here, and that he they would probably need to step up patrols because of the influx of refugees.
Matt Ladd, director of operations for Trigg County Schools, said that the district didn’t participate too heavily in the NLE last week, as they participated in a tabletop exercise on the subject in April. However, they did answer questions posed to them by Wade this past week, he stated.
Ladd said the buildings would probably withstand most earthquakes and that they’re required to look at how resistant a building is every time they renovate it.
John Jordan, administrator for the Lake Barkley State Resort Park, thinks the main structures at the park should be fairly resistant to earthquakes, especially since they’re pretty sturdy and most of them aren’t very tall.