As much of the national media focused attention on the presidential primary races underway on Tuesday in the State of California, the Federal Emergency Management Administration (“FEMA“) conducted a large-scale earthquake drill impacting Northern California on the 7th. The decision to stage the preparedness exercises on the same day as the election brought protests from some residents of the far western state.
Just a day earlier, on Monday, residents of California experienced a very shallow 3.1 magnitude earthquake in the southern part of the state. With its epicenter located some 16 miles from Palm Desert and 18 miles outside Coachella, the quake struck just 5.6 miles beneath the Earth’s surface. The U.S. Geological Survey indicated that people in La Quinta reported feeling tremors at 5:13 p.m. No one sustained injuries in the event.
The drill scheduled on Tuesday in the Pacific Northwest had been planned for months. It postulated a 9.0 magnitude earthquake in the Pacific off the coast of Oregon, followed by a tsunami. Many state and local disaster response agencies cooperated with the federal government in conducting the drill, including agencies in several states. However, the conduct of the exercise on the same day as California’s primary resulted in some social media comments complaining about the selection of dates. Critics complained federal officials should have conducted the drill on another day.