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MCEER Joins in “Vigilant Guard” – National Guard Earthquake Response Exercise

“Vigilant Guard New York,” a six-day training exercise simulating response to a magnitude 5.9 earthquake hitting the Buffalo/Niagara Falls, New York regionSix-day training event in Buffalo/Niagara Falls, NY draws participation of 2000-plus military and civilian emergency responders from Northeast US, Canada and abroad.

BUFFALO, NY (11/13/09) – MCEER (formerly known as the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research), joined with members of the National Guard, and officials from Western New York, New York State and other state, regional and federal agencies in “Vigilant Guard New York,” a six-day training exercise simulating response to a magnitude 5.9 earthquake hitting the Buffalo/Niagara Falls, New York region.

The event, which took place November 1-6, 2009, is one of four national-level disaster response exercises conducted annually by the National Guard Bureau and the United States Northern Command in conjunction with civilian first responders and local governments around the United States. It drew participation of more than 1,300 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from across New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as hundreds of first responders from throughout New York State, surrounding states and Canada.

During the exercise, teams from the National Guard, US Army Corps of Engineers and other specialized units, conducted hazardous materials detection drills and simulated search and rescue operations at rubble piles, specially built to replicate a collapsed hospital and multi-level parking garage.

The rubble piles also served as a backdrop to a media conference during which MCEER director and University at Buffalo professor of structural engineering, Andre Filiatrault joined National Guard, state and local leaders to open the exercise.

Andre Filiatrault at the National Guard ExerciseFiliatrault provided guidance to New York State Emergency Management officials in development of a HAZUS scenario for the event. He drew upon his knowledge of Canada’s 1988 Saguenay, Quebec earthquake – the largest to hit eastern North America in more than 50 years – in helping GIS planners refine their model for the postulated Buffalo earthquake.

Filiatrault and MCEER chief of staff Donald Goralski also participated in two table-top planning exercises to aid planners in their development of the exercise. Other MCEER researchers from the University – George Lee, Adel Sadek, and Andrew Whittaker – and UB geology professor Robert D. Jacobi also made themselves available for media interviews.

Vigilant Guard is a national exercise program that provides coordinated training among National Guard forces and local, state, regional and federal partners against a variety of different homeland security threats, including natural disasters and terrorist attack.

MCEER is a national center of excellence dedicated to the discovery and development of new knowledge, tools and technologies that equip communities to become more disaster resilient in the face of earthquakes and other extreme events. Founded in 1986 and headquartered at the University at Buffalo, MCEER is one of three such centers in the nation established by the National Science Foundation. It has been funded for more than two decades, with more than $67 million from NSF; more than $47 million from the State of New York and more than $34 million from the Federal Highway Administration. Additional support has been provided the Federal Emergency Management Agency, other state governments, academic institutions, foreign governments and private industry.

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