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Illinois Preps For Major Earthquake, Under New National Guard Commander

State of Illinois

The Illinois National Guard's commanding officer says for years the guard has been planning for the biggest catastrophes that could affect Illinois, like an earthquake in southern Illinois along the New Madrid fault.

Major General Richard Hayes Junior says trying out those plans is at the heart of an exercise in Springfield this week, simulating a 7.7 magnitude quake.

Hayes says he'll incorporate lessons learned following the Hurricane Katrina disaster ten years ago. "The key thing that I took away from that: you can't wait til the day a disaster has happened to 1) get to know each other and 2) to visualize the problems the disaster could bring, and then to think through those problems ahead of time so when it does come you have a plan in place" he says.

Hayes says Illinois has a robust first responder network, and the guard only gets called in on the "worst of days." Gov. Bruce Rauner appointed Hayes as the Illinois guard's chief in late May. On Monday, Rauner gave Hayes his second star, in a ceremony promoting the longtime guardsman to Major General.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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