On Tuesday millions of people from Georgia to Canada were jolted by the strongest earthquake to strike the East Coast since World War II.
The good news is that Louisiana was spared the ground rumbling. But do not get too comfortable with the idea that living in Vermilion Parish, you are safe from an earthquake. Earthquakes have shaken Louisiana over the last 200 years. Just last year, a small 3.0 magnitude hit north of Baton Rouge.
In 2006, offshore in the eastern part Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast, an earthquake of 5.2 magnitude sent shock waves that were felt in Louisiana. It was too small to trigger a tsunami.
Attorney Gary Theall, who is a Vermilion Parish historian, said in his research about the parish, not once did he read any story about a earthquake in the parish, dating back to the 1800s.
But despite having the odds in the parish’s favor about ever experiencing an earthquake, Vermilion Parish is prepared just in case.
The parish’s Office of Emergency Preparedness has a state-approved plan for an earthquake. The plan is in the parish’s two-binder, 874-page Hazard Emergency Plan.
Within that plan there is another plan called, “Madrid Fault Exercise” explaining the emergency procedure for an earthquake.
Becky Broussard, who is the director for Office of Emergency Preparedness in Vermilion Parish, said there are certain procedures to follow after the earthquake.
Emergency personnel will be the first arrivals to respond to the injured.
Shelters, probably at schools, will be opened if they are not damaged.
Engineers will have to be called in quickly to check on buildings to see if they suffered any kind of structural damage. If the buildings did have damage, then people are not allowed in the damaged buildings, Broussard said.
“This is different than a hurricane,” she said. “With a hurricane, you can prepare for it because you see it coming. With a tornado or earthquake, you can not prepare. People ask why I live where hurricanes hit. You can get ready for a hurricane, the others you can’t.”