“Great California Shakeout’ draws mixed reviews

Kellen Brauer

Graceful Ballon, left, and Siera Wischedel take cover under desk at Tech Mall during earthquake drill. (Photo: Stephen Harvey)

Kellen Brauer
Kellen Brauer

GROSSMONT COLLEGE- The Great California Shake Out shook up the activity around the Grossmont campus as teachers and students evacuated classrooms.

The Shake Out was a planned earthquake drill that took place at 10:20a.m. on October 20 throughout California. Many schools and businesses were told to have evacuation drills to help citizens prepare for when a large earthquake rattles California. The GC Summit stationed reporters across the campus.

The audio department on the Grossmont campus set up speakers in the large quad to simulate the noise and to some degree, the way the earth vibrates during an earthquake.

Students evacuated to the quad were instructed to sit or lie down when the rumbling occurred. Media Communication Professor Jim Papageorge said this was intended to teach students that standing during a large quake could knock them off of their feet. In this accompanying video shot by GC Summit Arts and Entertainment Editor Nicolle Fedor, Papageorge also spoke about the need to stock up on food and water before an earthquake.

Campus police also stood alert to make sure all students and faculty were evacuated safely and followed directions. Even though the drill was organized and ran according to plan, the level of student participation was below expectations.

“The general feeling was apathetic,” commented GC Summit Sports Editor Dylan Burke, who had stationed himself at the athletic department.

Other students mentioned that they did these drills in third grade and that the desks were too small for them to fit under now. Students were also very slow to react to the alarms and slowly moved under their desks or out of their classrooms, according to GC Summit writer Sharyce Bailey, who was attending a sociology class when the drill began.

Reports also came in about several students who declined to evacuate. Andres Hernandez, in particular, refused a request from Grossmont College Vice President Barbara Blanchard to leave the Tech Mall, according to GC Editor-in-chief Russ Lindquist.

However there were faculty and students who treated this drill as preparation for these quakes that are almost guaranteed to happen in California. “This is efficient, you need to stay prepared, if we didn’t have these every now and then no one would know what to do,” said Grossmont student Fortunato (Frank) Tassone.

Prof. Papageorge, audio director for the Media Communication Department, provided some facts to students who clustered around him on the Main Quad. He said there is a “100 percent chance” that California will experience a large quake very soon.

Once all of the students were out in the quad, Papageorge started the audio rumbling again and instructed students to sit down in a simulation of a small 15-second aftershock that is almost certain to follow a large quake.

The “California Shakeout” exercise had been advertised throughout the state. Some students excused themselves from campus buildings prior to the announced 10:20 a.m. time, apparently to avoid participation.

“I felt that it should have been more of a surprise,” commented Bailey. “People would have been more serious.”

When the drill ended, students headed back to class, and California’s largest earthquake exercise in history drew to a close.

Grossmont Vice President Tim Flood who coordinated the drill called it a “really successful event. It was the first good full test of evacuation routes.” Flood also said that everyone was out of their buildings in fewer than six minutes and said that it was a “well-planned, well-executed” drill.

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Brauer is news editor of the GC Summit. He may be contacted at [email protected] Others contributing to this coverage were Russ Lindquist, Nicolle Fedor, Dylan Burke and Sharyce Bailey.