At 10:17 a.m. on Oct. 17, thousands of Santa Clarita residents “dropped, covered and held on” during the annual Great ShakeOut earthquake drill.
This drill comes at a time when many Santa Clarita Valley residents have recently been reminded of the destruction an earthquake can cause, just a few months after the 7.1-magnitude Ridgecrest quake devastated nearby Kern County.
“I hadn’t felt a big one like that in years,” Canyon Country resident Wendy Piccolo said. “Sometimes you forget, living here as long as I have, the dangers of natural disasters … I was reminded very quickly of that — and that we all need to be ready for it to happen again.”
The ShakeOut drills started in 2008 to teach residents how to prepare for a major earthquake. The event has grown over the years and is now being organized in numerous other states and countries worldwide.
“Living in Southern California, earthquake preparedness is key because unlike other natural disasters, you really have a limited warning time,” Mayor Pro Tem Cameron Smyth said. “By doing this ShakeOut every year, it’s a good reminder for everybody to have a plan, regardless of where you are, at home, work or school, be aware of your surroundings and know how to react in case there is an earthquake.”
The city of Santa Clarita scheduled drills at city facilities, including City Hall, public libraries and community centers, where Smyth made the broadcast to those in attendance.
“Today, you are joining millions of Californians in the largest earthquake drill in U.S. history,” Smyth said.
Many local schools and businesses also took part, which Smyth said is important for everyone, especially children.
“I have three kids that are at three different schools, so if there is an earthquake, it’s important for us, as it is for all parents, to know where our kids are going to be, that they know how to react and to know they’ll be safe,” he added.
Drills like this are not only a great opportunity to learn how to be safer during an earthquake, but also to secure emergency plans and supplies, according to Rebecca Widdison, a management analyst with the city.
City officials remind residents to avoid doorways and instead take cover under something sturdy and hold on until the shaking stops and it is safe to move.
“It’s been a while since I participated in anything like this,” Santa Clarita resident Tom Jones said. “I sort of forget that it’s one of the necessary evils of living here, but it’s definitely an important reminder.”