I’m under invasion by the DHS search and destroy
SPRUCE PINE — Hundreds of emergency responders from across the region will take part in five days of urban search and rescue training in Mitchell County starting this weekend.
The “Quake on the Blue Ridge” training kicks off Friday and runs through Tuesday at the drill site on N.C. 226 near Spruce Pine. Two years in the planning, the event simulates emergency needs in an urban environment following an earthquake-triggered landslide, though the training also could apply to other emergencies, said Robert Michaleski, Mitchell County emergency management coordinator.
“That’s the scenario we chose, but it would apply to any disaster,” Michaleski said. “You go through some of the same things whether it’s an ice storm, a tornado or some other disaster.”
More than 500 firefighters, emergency medical technicians, law enforcement officers, staff from area hospitals and health departments and other emergency workers are registered to participate, and the number likely will grow to about 700 by the time the drill begins, he said.
Agencies from Buncombe expected to attend include the Asheville Fire Department and Mission Hospital.
The drill is being sponsored by Mitchell, Yancey, Avery and McDowell counties with assistance from state emergency management officials along with the federal Department of Homeland Security. Training is open to agencies from the Carolinas, Tennessee and Virginia.
The event will take place on 40 acres of land made available by a local property owner, Michaleski said. Crews have built a mock community, using 12×20-foot outbuildings, complete with homes and a school for use in the drills. A washed-out bridge, a collapsed tunnel and destroyed homes are among the training scenarios that will play out.
Earthquakes, while not common in Western North Carolina, do happen. Two minor quakes were recorded in 2006, one centered near Burnsville and the other near Hot Springs. A 2.5 magnitude quake was recorded in 2009, centered about 20 miles south of Asheville.
Last Aug. 23, a 5.9 magnitude earthquake centered near Richmond, Va. rattled windows and shook computer monitors in WNC and elsewhere along the East coast.
No earthquakes, no tornadoes, no floods ever here in the mountains. Just patriots that need to be identified and targeted in a search and destroy drill. It’s a nice secluded place they have gathered and no access obviously for the public to see what’s going on.