Mock disaster tests city’s preparedness

Seventh graders in Josh Morton’s language arts class hid under their desks for the first two minutes of the earthquake drill.  - Kaitlin Strohschein/Staff Photo
Seventh graders in Josh Morton’s language arts class hid under their desks for the first two minutes of the earthquake drill.
— image credit: Kaitlin Strohschein/Staff Photo

The 750 students and 70 staff members at Cedar Heights Junior High School almost simultaneously dove under their desks when they heard an announcement over the PA system saying that the ground was shaking because of an earthquake.

Most of the students filed out of their classrooms and into a field where they sat for the next several hours while teachers and emergency workers assessed the damage of the pretend earthquake and rescued “injured” students and volunteers throughout the area.

The earthquake drill was part of Kitsap Rumble, a two-minute-long, 8.2-magnitude earthquake drill that struck at all schools in the district and several other local businesses, hospitals public agencies.

Kitsap Rumble is part of the federal Disaster Prepared Month, a public education campaign sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security.

The drill was “designed to establish a learning environment for responders and supporting agencies to exercise their plans and procedures when faced with a major catastrophic incident,” according to a press release about the drill.

Normally, these responders do “table top” exercises, which involve sitting around a table discussing how they would respond to disasters.

Kitsap Rumble gave them more of a “hands on” experience, said Susan May of Kitsap County’s Department of Emergency Management.

But students had less than usual to do.

“I’m bored,” said eighth grader Mahayla Flowers as she sat in the field separating cards into a black and red pile. “I’d rather be in class.”

Andrew Cain, the principal at Cedar Heights, saw the drill as a great opportunity for the school.

“Every day is important for learning,” he said. “Sometimes, we have to learn how to prepare if there’s an emergency.”

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