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Inside This Issue
Great ShakeOut Drill Moves to October
South Carolina Wins National Award
CUSEC Transportation Task Force
CUSEC Spotlight: Mr. Robert Latham, Jr.
Calendar & Upcoming Events
Earthquakes in the News: May 2013
"Get Your Home Ready for Earthquakes" Webinar
Interested in learning a few easy, inexpensive ways to protect yourself and your home from earthquakes? 

CUSEC,FEMA, and the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety are teaming up on May 30 to present a 1-hour, earthquake safety webinar for individuals and homeowners.  Topics will include:


- How to stay safe during an earthquake
- How to protect items in your home from damage

- How to prepare your business
- Educational resources
- and more...


Space is running out for this webinar, so click here right now to learn how to reserve your spot. 

Did You Feel It?

View a list of recent earthquakes here...
Geocache Update

Spring is here, and it's a great time to get outside.  What better way to spend time with your family than to go Geocaching

Since 2007, more than 2,000 people have visited CUSEC geocaches, which provide earthquake safety and mitigation info to site visitors.  As some visitors recently noted: 

"Thanks for the history lesson, the cache, and the fun." 

"(The geocache) helped us learn more about earthquakes and what to do to prepare for one."

"We found this to be a very informative geocache."  

To find a CUSEC geocache near you, see our cache listing page at the geocaching website.

Following the deadly tornadoes that occurred this week near Moore, Oklahoma and Oklahoma City, CUSEC would like to offer our thoughts and prayers to those who have been affected by these storms. You can support the response to this, and other disasters, by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to immediately give $10, or by donating online at  


Like earthquakes, tornadoes can have devastating impacts on human life and property and all of the CUSEC States are susceptible to severe weather and tornadoes.  Because of this threat, it is important that you have a NOAA Weather Radio on hand to stay informed of potential severe weather in your area.  To learn more about how you can protect yourself and your family in severe weather, visit  

Great ShakeOut Drill Moves to October 

Recent events, from the tragic explosions at the Boston Marathon in April or the flooding in Illinois, to the devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma this week, remind us of the importance of being prepared for the unexpected.  A key element of preparedness is practicing what actions to take, before disaster strikes. 


Recently, it was announced that the next  Great Central U.S. ShakeOut earthquake drill will take place on October 17, 2013 at 10:17 a.m.* Since 2012, Central U.S. ShakeOut drills have been held on February 7th.  Although highly visible and successful, this has been out of sync with a larger, national ShakeOut effort that takes place annually on the third Thursday of October.  In 2012, 16 states and British Columbia participated in the October 18 ShakeOut. 

To maximize the effectiveness of the ShakeOut, the CUSEC Board of Directors has elected to permanently move the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut to the October date beginning this year.  Doing so aligns us with the national initiative involving 30 states and territories where nearly 20 million people will practice earthquake safety and disaster preparedness activities.
We encourage you to mark your calendar for October 17, 2013 and immediately register to participate, so you can join millions of others across the nation in the next Great ShakeOut earthquake drill.  You can also follow the ShakeOut on Facebook and Twitter where we post occasional updates and safety tips.  Thank you for your continued commitment to earthquake and disaster preparedness.


*We realize everyone cannot participate on this day due to unforeseen circumstances. If this is the case, we encourage you to register and list an alternate date of participation so we can keep accurate records.

CUSEC Associate State Wins National Award

Presented annually for excellence in government communications, the National Association of Government Communicators (NAGC) recently awarded the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) with its 2013 Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Award.


The award recognizes the agency's original publication, the South Carolina Earthquake Guide, which was developed by a variety of experts to explain the state's seismic risk and how best prepare for an earthquake. NAGC judges selected the Earthquake Guide out of hundreds of nominations in the "Special Purpose Publication" category.  


Using the South Carolina Guide as a model, CUSEC created the Guide to Earthquakes in the Central U.S. in 2010. Since then, we have customized the guide for several of our Member and Associate States and it has become one of our most requested and downloaded publications. To date, nearly 75,000 copies have been printed and distributed.


CUSEC congratulates SCEMD for receiving this recognition and honor, and thanks them for serving as a model of excellence that many individuals and communities have benefited from. 

CUSEC Transportation Task Force

Recognizing that transportation systems in the central U.S. region will be significantly impacted by a moderate to major earthquake along the New Madrid Seismic Zone, the CUSEC State Transportation Task Force (TTF) was created in 2000. The TTF addresses transportation planning needs of the CUSEC Member State Departments of Transportation (DOT). It is currently preparing for CAPSTONE-14 to plan for the effective post-earthquake operations of rail, river, runway, and road transportation systems.


Building upon previous efforts, the TTF is also updating and identifying essential route information that can be used to transport necessary resources following a major disaster. This work is being done in preparation for an upcoming CAPSTONE-14 planning workshop in October, at the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) Emergency Operations Center.


Members of the Task Force are also working with the Special Committee on Transportation and Emergency Management (SCOTEM), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and the National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board (TRB) on a research project to develop standardized "green-yellow-red" protocols for post-earthquake bridge inspections. A similar program, ATC-20 Post-Earthquake Safety Evaluations of Buildings, was developed by FEMA and the Applied Technology Council following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in California.


The CUSEC State Transportation Task Force is comprised of representatives from the Departments of Transportation from the CUSEC Member States who work in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Federal Highway Administration.

CUSEC Spotlight: Five Questions with
Robert Latham, Jr.


Appointed State Director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) in January of 2012 by Governor Phil Bryant, Robert Latham, Jr. is no stranger to public service. Having served for more than 20 years in the Mississippi National Guard, Latham also served as MEMA State Director from February of 2000 to June of 2006. In that role, he oversaw the State's disaster preparedness and mitigation efforts, as well as leading Mississippi's response and recovery efforts during Hurricane Katrina and many other disasters. During his first tenure as State Director, he was the Mississippi Homeland Security Advisor from 2002 to 2004, and also former Chairman of the CUSEC Board of Directors. Since returning to the helm at MEMA, Latham has made immediate contributions to the CUSEC Board and has actively worked to reinvigorate the Mississippi earthquake preparedness program. Read below to learn more about Director Latham's dedication to public service and emergency management.


When did you start working in public service and what led you into the emergency management field?  In 1969, I joined the Mississippi Army National Guard. Just four years later I became a full-time public servant in the Mississippi Army National Guard, where I remained until retiring as a Sergeant Major in 1995. In 1978, I had the opportunity to join the Senatobia Volunteer Fire Department, with the sole purpose of playing on their softball team. At that time, being a firefighter was not in my plans. I only played on the softball team for one season, but my interest in public service and love for the fire service became a passion for me. Just four years later, I found myself as chief of the fire department, where I served as Fire Chief for 17 of the 18 remaining years before retiring in 1999. During this time, I was also the emergency management director for the City of Senatobia. 

In February 1994, I was appointed Tate County Emergency Management Director by the Tate County Board of Supervisors. Just three weeks later, a major ice storm devastated more than 20 counties in northwest Mississippi, including Tate County. This was truly trial by fire but it ignited a passion for a career in emergency management.


During the ice storm, I found myself in the middle of a major disaster in the dead of winter and many citizens found themselves without power for weeks. Mass care, assisting those with special medical needs and assisting a nursing home with 120 mostly bedridden residents, where my wife served as the activity director, quickly consumed the better part of every day and night. As a result of the challenges and opportunities during this disaster, I realized that responding to and recovering from a disaster was not only interesting, it was rewarding. The ensuing Presidential Disaster Declaration was my first disaster, and hence my emergency management career began.


In your years as Director of MEMA, what has been your most memorable experience?  Being responsible to the Governor in the preparedness for, response to, recovery from and mitigation of disasters is a tremendous responsibility. During my 7 � years in this position, I have had the opportunity to lead the State through more than 45 state of emergencies and 13 Presidential Disaster Declarations. After September 11, 2001, I served as the Governor's Homeland Security Advisor for two years and managed more than $65 million in homeland security grants. Even after all this, I have to say that the one thing that stands out the most to me is overseeing our State's response to Hurricane Katrina. Being a part of the first successful execution of a true State/Federal unified command in a major disaster has proven to be my most memorable experience.


During your career you've worked with many different people and organizations (CUSEC in particular) on various initiatives. What lessons have you learned that have helped you be a better leader?  I learned a long time ago that you don't have to be the smartest person in the room, but surrounding yourself with smart people is critical. I value advice and recommendations, and believe that a good decision now is better that a great decision later. You have to lead from the trenches and not from an ivory tower. Your employees are always watching you, and they look for their leaders to be honest, decisive and transparent.


In emergency management, we encounter people who don't take emergency or earthquake preparedness seriously. How do you deal with this? It has always been frustrating that our preparedness message is not (always) taken seriously. I believe that the problem is that we are trying to reach adults when our focus should be on children. All you have to do is look at fire prevention and how successful the fire service has been in teaching kids to "Stop, Drop, and Roll". We have to create a "culture of preparedness" in this country and it begins in the schools with children at a young age, as well as other elements in our community such as non-governmental and faith based organizations, civic clubs, homeowner associations and the private sector.


You served as MEMA's Director from 2000 to 2006, when you retired. Why did you return to lead the agency in 2012, and what motivates you to continue to devote your time and energy to this field?  Governor Phil Bryant can be very persuasive and there was no way I was going to tell him "no" when he asked me to return as MEMA Director. I believed then, as I believe now, that you should begin every day with the intent of making a difference. If everyone does this then we can change the outcome for those affected by disasters.

Calendar & Upcoming Events

May 2013 

May 30 - "Get Your Home Ready for Earthquakes" Webinar 


June 2013
June 03-04 - CUSEC Board of Directors Meting; Indianapolis, IN
June 05 - CAPSTONE-14 Initial Planning Conference; Indianapolis, IN  


July 2013
July 13-16 - 38th Natural Hazards Workshop, Broomfield, CO

July 18 - Arkansas Governor's Earthquake Advisory Council, Jacksonville, AR 


To view more upcoming events, please visit our website calendar.
Earthquakes in the News: May 2013