As you probably know by now, the theme of SC Archives Month 2012 is “Planning for the Worst; Hoping for the Best: Natural Disasters in South Carolina.” The Research Room display case is dedicated to local natural disasters: the Great Sea Island Storm (1893); Hurricane Gracie (1959); and the 1886 Earthquake. In particular, the third shelf highlights the 1886 earthquake’s effects in Beaufort. It is timely for an earthquake drill to fall slap dab in the middle of an Archives Month dedicated to documenting natural disasters!
Beaufort County Library will be shaking out during the “SouthEast ShakeOut” on October 18th at 10:18 am. You can, too. And, it only takes one minute of your time to prepare and participate!
Q: Why a Shakeout? In other words, Why do we need an earthquake drill in Beaufort?
Believe it or not, we are located in an active seismic zone. It is important that everyone know what to do in an earthquake. There won’t be time when one hits to tell people what to do. You may be as startled as we were last April when an earthquake based in Virginia caused some vibrations here, too! The 1886 Charleston earthquake was much, much stronger. It rattled most of the East Coast, killed ~100 people, and caused much damage all along the coastal plain of South Carolina.
Here are a few local reports about the 1886 Earthquake felt in Beaufort County as given in "Reminiscences of Beaufort Storms,"a Beaufort County Historical Society paper by E.B. Rodgers in 1950:
"There was a rumbling from the northwest, then a slight shock, then a more severe shock and it lasted on through the night. The people thought the world had come to an end and rushed out of their houses and hurried to the churches. The white churches would not open. ... However, the Rev. Bythewood of the Tabernacle Baptist Church...opened its doors and to the surprise of all, the whites outnumbered the Negros [sic] in attendance."
"A tidal wave, twenty feet high, came up Beaufort River towards Port Royal and another down Beaufort River. They met just off Battery Creek and the water dashed high in the air..." and a streaker!
“When the first shock [of the 1886 Earthquake] came, James Crofut was taking a bath. In his haste to get to the relative safety of the street, he remembered his beaver hat, but forgot his clothes!”
If a similar sized earthquake strikes again we would expect 100’s to 1000’s of casualties and massive property damage. By practicing what to do we reduce the chances of injuries!
A great portion of Beaufort County is on or near the water. Much of our land is low-lying. Earthquakes can generate tsunamis. What should you do?
You're in the grocery store or out buying clothes. You hear a low rumble. The ground begins to shake. What should you do to protect yourself?
Should you get under a doorway? The experts say "No. Doorways are not any safer during an earthquake than the rest of the wall with today’s building techniques. This idea comes from a picture of a true adobe house with an arch that was still standing after the building fell. Today’s arches are not built that way, so even arched doorways offer no additional protection."
Should you run outside like Mr. Crofut did? The experts say "No! In modern cities that is how most people are killed, by debris and walls falling on them as they exit a building or are standing on the sidewalk. Most buildings will not collapse but their walls and signs and glass will tumble off the front and onto the sidewalks. Also, the ground is moving quite a bit which makes running hard and the earthquake will only last a few seconds to 10s of seconds‐‐‐you are unlikely to get far and will end up in the open where falling lights etc can hurt you."
Learn more about appropriate protection strategies during an earthquake at http://earthquakecountry.info/dropcoverholdon/.
Q: How do you Shakeout?
At 10:18 am on October 18th 2012, everyone is encouraged to Drop Cover and Hold for 60 seconds.
Drop Cover and Hold means dive under a sturdy piece of furniture and hold onto it for 60 seconds. You have to hold onto it because during an earthquake furniture tends to move. What if there is no furniture to dive under? Get on the floor and cover your head, if possible move no more than 10 feet to an inside wall (away from windows).