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Earthquake Scenario Tests Courts' Response
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The map of the New Madrid and Wabash Valley seismic zones shows earthquakes as red circles—earthquakes that occurred 1974–2002 with magnitudes larger than 2.5.—and as green circles, earthquakes prior to 1974.
District and bankruptcy courts along the midwest New Madrid fault participated last month in a FEMA-sponsored National Level Exercise to test and evaluate their incident response and recovery capabilities.
The exercise scenario involved a catastrophic earthquake in the New Madrid and Wabash Valley seismic zones, which cross several Midwestern states. Coincidentally, in June, a minor earthquake was felt in the St. Louis, Missouri, area. Fortunately, no damage or injuries were reported.
The district and bankruptcy courts for the Northern District of Mississippi, the Eastern District of Arkansas, the Northern District of Alabama, the Western District of Kentucky, the Eastern District of Missouri (including the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals), the Southern District of Indiana, and the Southern District of Illinois participated in table-top exercises, together with federal defenders, U.S. Attorneys, U.S. Trustees, and U.S. Marshals.
“This was one of the most constructive training sessions I have attended, with fantastic inter-agency participation,” said Clerk of Court Laura A. Briggs in the Southern District of Indiana. “We found several areas of our COOP that needed tightening.”
Prior to the exercise, coordinators from the Administrative Office’s Judiciary Emergency Preparedness Office conducted site visits and training sessions to prepare court staff.