State Agencies Undergo Earthquake Disaster Training

- NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR- Nearly two months ago, a tornado ripped through parts of central Arkansas leaving behind a pathway of destruction. While Arkansas agencies continue working on recovery efforts, they're also preparing for the possibility of a different natural disaster.

"The seismologist always say it's just a matter of when," says David Maxwell, ADEM Director & State Homeland Security Advisor.

About 15 state agencies, including the Arkansas Department of Emergency Services (ADEM), are spending the week at Camp Robinson undergoing a series of exercises for when and if a major earthquake strikes the Natural State. It's been 200 years since several earthquakes, reaching a magnitude of 8.1, shook Arkansas. Now, state agencies are making sure every three years they're ready for the unexpected.

"This was to kind of give us an idea of how far along we've come and identify new issues," says Maxwell.

The exercises had people call into the emergency operations center for help. It was then up to the team to find those resources and handle the issues.

"With regulations and stuff changing so regularly and people changing out, you need to be familiar with what they're supposed to do, what you're supposed to do and how we all work together," says Krista Guthrie, Duty Officer.

Officials found their collaborative team effort across all agencies made it easier to address the problem and allocate resources. However, there are other areas that still need improvement.

"Getting resources in quicker, internal practices how do we streamline things to get requests through the system quicker," says Maxwell.

They also found it's going to take time for the government to assist.

"If roads are down, bridges are out, it's going to take us a few days to be able to get in and assess what's happened and start to get food and water in the area," says Maxwell.

On Friday, agencies will take part in a long-term recovery exercise where they will figure out how to rebuild hard hit areas, develop the economy, get businesses back in operation and how to best utilize disaster funds.

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