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Earthquake Hits East Coast; Cherry Hill Fire Dept.Responds

 Tuesday, August 23, 2011

At just before 2 PM on August 23, 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter in Virginiawas felt for hundreds of miles up and down the mid-Atlantic region, including Cherry Hill. For most, the earthquake consisted of some uncomfortable moments of light shaking. For those in bigger structures and high rise buildings, it was a little more unnerving. Across town, there were many buildings that were completely evacuated.

 On duty Cherry Hill Firefighters & EMTs also experienced the same shaking in their firehouses. Once the effects had subsided, it was apparent that calls for help were going to start coming in. Within minutes of the earthquake, several off duty personnel who were working on the September 11 Memorial at Marlkress Road, manned the Cherry Hill Emergency Operations Center there. This center offers a central location, during emergencies or events, for all essential agencies to operate with a cohesive purpose and to better coordinate the efforts of emergency crews. Also working from the EOC were Cherry Hill Police officials and members of town government. 

There were several calls from facilities who wanted some piece of mind that it was clear to allow evacuated employees and patients to return. Also, there were incidents involving some light structural damage and some tree limbs down. One 14-story high rise apartment building was evacuated and checked extensively for reported structural damage, and ultimately cleared. And, as is always the case, there were several calls for emergency medical assistance. The EOC worked to help clear incidents and also initiated a damage assessment of all school and health related facilities across town. Each school and health facility was visited or contacted by Cherry Hill Firefighters. In all, no incident of any great degree related to the earthquake were encountered. This incident ultimately served as a great tool highlighting the preparedness and training of Cherry Hill’s emergency workers.

Today’s earthquake is a great reminder that emergencies can strike anywhere and often happen without warning. Be sure your family has an emergency plan and a kit of emergency supplies to sustain yourselves for at least 72 hours.

 Most emergencies and disasters come without warning. In contrast, the news agencies are already warning that our area may be affected by Hurricane Irene, currently making a fast track in the Caribbean ocean. Take some time to make sure you know what to do.