Missouri Geological Survey

NLE 2011 May 16-20, 2011

In 2011, the bicentennial of the great New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812, Missourians took part in a five-day training exercise focused on a coordinated local, state and federal response to a magnitude 7.7 New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) earthquake. The exercise, known as the National Level Exercise 2011 was designed to prepare and coordinate a multiple-jurisdictional integrated response to a national catastrophic event – specifically a major earthquake in the central United States region NMSZ. Activities took place at state geological surveys along with command posts, emergency operation centers and other locations to include federal facilities in the Washington D.C. area and federal, regional, state, tribal, local and private sector facilities in the eight member states of the Central United States Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC).

National Level Exercise 2011, May 16-20

For five consecutive days governmental and non-governmental organizations in the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) states and federal agencies will participate in the nation’s largest ever national level exercise that will test response planning for a 7.7 magnitude NMSZ earthquake.

The purpose of the exercise is to prepare and coordinate a multiple-jurisdictional integrated response to a national catastrophic event.

NLE 2011 is a White House directed Congressionally-mandated exercise that includes the participation of all appropriate federal department and agency senior officials, their deputies and staff; and key operational elements. NLE 2011 will focus on regional catastrophic response and recovery activities between federal, regional, state, tribal, local and private sector participants.

NLE 2011 is designated as a Tier I National Level Exercise. Tier I exercises (formerly known as the Top Officials exercise series or TOPOFF) are conducted annually in accordance with the National Exercise Program (NEP), which serves as the nation’s overarching exercise program for planning, organizing, conducting and evaluating national level exercises. The NEP was established to provide the U.S. government, at all levels, exercise opportunities to prepare for catastrophic crises ranging from terrorism to natural disasters.

State Agency Participation

Missouri's level of play will be Tuesday through Thursday, 12 hours per day, 0700-1900 (CDT).  The Missouri Department of Natural Resources will join the State Emergency Management Agency and numerous state agencies to participate in the exercise.  Some include the Missouri Highway Patrol, Missouri Department of Transportation and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Exercise Focus

NLE 2011 will simulate the catastrophic nature of a major earthquake in the central United States region of the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ). The year 2011 is the bicentennial anniversary of the 1811 New Madrid earthquake, for which the NMSZ is named. NLE 2011 will be the first NLE to simulate a natural hazard.

NLE 2011 activities will take place at command posts, emergency operation centers and other locations to include federal facilities in the Washington D.C. area and federal, regional, state, tribal, local and private sector facilities in the eight member states of the Central United States Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC). The eight member states of CUSEC encompass four different FEMA regions: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee (FEMA Region IV); Illinois and Indiana (FEMA Region V); Arkansas (FEMA Region VI); and Missouri (FEMA Region VII).

Exercise Objectives

Through a comprehensive evaluation process, the exercise will assess response and recovery capabilities both nationally and regionally. The exercise is designed to validate the following capabilities:

Validating the Homeland Security System

Exercises such as NLE 2011 are an important component of national preparedness, helping to build an integrated federal, state, tribal, local and private sector capability to manage a catastrophic event; and rapidly and effectively respond to and recover from any major disaster that occurs.

The functional exercise offers agencies and jurisdictions a way to test their plans and skills in a real-time, realistic environment and to gain the in-depth knowledge that only experience can provide. Participants will exercise response and recovery functions that are critical to responding to a catastrophic event. Lessons learned from the exercise will provide valuable insights to guide future planning for disasters and other emergencies.

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