Thomas Nelson Testing Emergency Alert Systems Oct. 17 During Earthquake Drill

As part of a multi-state earthquake drill called the Great Southeast ShakeOut, Thomas Nelson Community College will test emergency alert systems in Hampton and at the Historic Triangle campus in Williamsburg at 10:17 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17. Those on and near the campuses can expect to hear tones and voice messages sounding from the College’s mass notification towers during the drill.

“Ours will be informational more than drop and take cover,” said Thomas Nelson Safety Officer Lee Affholter. During the drill, the College will test all components of its emergency alert systems including campus-wide student, faculty and staff email with Web links to information about the potentially lifesaving actions to take in the event of an earthquake; a 10-minute internet homepage alert; visual and audio warnings on office/classroom telephones; notifications on campus television monitors, and e2Campus alerts. Used by roughly 650 campuses nationwide, e2Campus is an emergency notification system that enables the transmission of instant alerts to cell phones, land lines and other devices.

This will be Thomas Nelson’s first time participating in the Great Southeast ShakeOut. In 2012, several Virginia agencies took part in the earthquake drill along with many in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland and the District of Columbia. A historic 5.8 magnitude centered in Mineral, Va. on Aug. 23, 2011 prompted the Commonwealth’s involvement.

Thomas Nelson’s Geology Department is also taking part by providing a five-minute slide presentation that instructors can show students during class on Oct. 17. “We hope that this PowerPoint format will condense relevant information about earthquakes and the College’s overall emergency procedures,” said Geology Department Head Peter Berquist. The Geology team also plans to provide students and College personnel with “hands-on resources” and information about earthquakes with specifics on the August 2011 seismic event.

“This earthquake was felt by more people than ever before in the history of the United States. It was also the largest recorded earthquake along the east coast within 100 years, and the largest earthquake ever recorded in Virginia. [Geologists] have long recognized that earthquakes happen here and have defined an area of the east coast, The Central Virginia Seismic Zone, because of the historical earthquake activity,” said Berquist.

ShakeOut originated in California, where statewide earthquake drills have taken place annually since 2008. The drill’s date, Oct. 17, is the anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake that occurred in 1989 near San Francisco causing $7 million in damages.

For more information about Thomas Nelson’s earthquake drill, contact Emergency Management Head Garth McDonald, or Safety Officer Lee Affholter at 825-2996, or *protected email*.