Earthquake and Building Collapse, Severe Weather and Tornadoes

This sub-committee reviewed the Missouri State University Emergency Response Plan sections on Earthquakes and Building Collapse and the unit on Severe Weather and Tornadoes (see Appendix B). The sub-committee reviewed these sections of the plan to ascertain whether the plan was consistent with basic principles of crisis/emergency preparedness and reflected the most current thinking in this area. For comparison purposes the policies and procedures set forth by the Springfield/Greene County Office of Emergency Management, the Southwest Missouri Emergency Support Organization (SMESO), the state of Missouri Emergency Management Agency (including the Missouri SEMA Earthquake Program), The Central States Earthquake consortium and the FEMA site were also examined. Please see Appendix C for a copy of the Missouri Catastrophic Event Plan. A map of the quake prone areas in the state is also included.

The Emergency Response Plan’s policies and procedures in these areas appear to be sound but the sub-committee recommends that the plan be updated where necessary to reflect current state and federal planning in the areas. At the state and regional levels considerable planning has been undertaken for an anticipated major earthquake in the new Madrid fault area in the southeastern section of Missouri (Appendix C).

The sub-committee found that:

  1. A critical need existed for members of the campus community to be aware of the plan and know what to do in the event of the types of emergencies reviewed by the sub-committee.
  2. Three things need to be emphasized:
    1. awareness of existing procedures and policies;
    2. exercises in emergency response (drills);
    3. signage in areas that the sub-committee recommended further effort be placed.
  3. Also with both severe weather (tornadoes) and earthquakes (building collapse) the sub-committee suggests that buildings on campus be evaluated to determine which ones are structurally sound and resistant to natural forces. Software tools are available from FEMA. These tools include the Seismic Rehabilitation Cost Estimator (SRCE) that is an online program that provides a mechanism for calculating cost estimates for seismic rehabilitation of buildings See also the attachment on HAZUS-MH. (Appendix D)

Additional Recommendations

  1. Differentiate between the roles of Building Coordinators versus University First Responders. The skill set needed to help manage building maintenance issues is different than responding to a human crisis situation. Currently, some individuals serving in the role as Building Coordinators may not possess the skills needed for a First Responder serving as a key point of contact during a crisis.
  2. Establish and identify First Responders for key locations who serve as key point of contacts when implementing the Emergency Response Plan for a crisis. Each location should have a primary and alternate First Responder.
  3. Require First Responders to participate in a scheduled training program annually and maintain any required certifications. They would also participate in practice and tabletop exercises.
  4. Divide the campus into zones for managing crisis responses to maximize level of control, communication, and response to emergencies.
  5. Establish a website/webpage with resources and information on the University’s Emergency Response Plan. Utilize this site to communicate to our University community, First Responders, and local community.
  6. Consistent signage should be produced for classrooms/offices and printed publications for distribution to campus employees on appropriate responses to emergency situations.