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Virginia students drop, cover and hold on during Great ShakeOut

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- More than 19 million people across the United States participated the annual "Great ShakeOut" earthquake drill.

At exactly 10:19 a.m. Thursday, the Clover Hill Elementary School assistant principal announced over the intercom the start of the earthquake drill to more than 700 students.

The idea was for schools, businesses and the community to drop, take cover and hold on during the exercise and to prepare for the real thing.

In this case, the students hid under their desk until they were evacuated out of the building.

"I'm hoping that the students go home and tell their families what the best thing to do in the event of an earthquake," Principal Allie Strollo said.

Although it was only practice on Thursday, those in Louisa County have experienced and survived an actual quake.

On August 23, 2011 a 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook the town of Mineral, Virginia.

More Americans felt that quake than any other in history.

“As we saw last month in Mexico City and, closer to home, in Louisa County in 2011, earthquakes strike with little to no warning. It’s important that all citizens have a plan and are prepared regardless of when an earthquake may strike—whether in the middle of the night or during the day while at school, work or home,” said Jeff Caldwell, External Affairs Director, Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

For most people, in most situations, the recommended earthquake safety action is to:

  • DROP where you are, onto your hands and knees;
  • COVER your head and neck with one arm and hand, as you crawl for shelter under a nearby table or desk;
  • HOLD ON to your shelter with one hand until shaking stops (remain on your knees and covering your head and neck with your other arm and hand).

The Great ShakeOut drill in Virginia is coordinated by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Geological Survey, and dozens of other partners.

ShakeOut is coordinated globally by the Southern California Earthquake Center in Los Angeles, California.