Skip to main content

Holladay Journal

Holladay unites to prepare for potential earthquake

Apr 08, 2024 12:56PM ● By Collette Hayes

Four years ago, Wasatch Front residents braced for support when a 5.7-magnitude Magna earthquake rolled across the Salt Lake Valley. The quake shook buildings, rattled nerves, and reminded those in its path the importance of earthquake preparedness.

The Wasatch fault has the devastating potential to generate up to a magnitude 7.5 earthquake. The Utah Seismic Safety Commission’s online survival guide, “Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country,” ( highlights that over 85% of Utah’s population lives within 15 miles of the Wasatch fault. In addition, 75% of Utah’s economy and most state facilities are near the fault line. 

According to the Utah Geological Survey, there is a 57% probability that the Wasatch Front region will experience an earthquake of magnitude 6.0 or greater in the next 50 years and a 43% probability of a quake of magnitude 6.75 or greater in that period. These statistical facts present the question, “Holladay, are you ready to rumble?”

An Earthquake Drill and Emergency Preparedness Fair will be held on Saturday, April 20, to enhance the Holladay community's readiness for a major disaster. The event is sponsored and organized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Olympus Stake, in partnership with the City of Holladay, Salt Lake County, the Unified Police Department, the Unified Fire Authority, and neighborhood religious organizations.

Holladay Councilmembers Drew Quinn, District 4, Matt Durham, District 2, Holladay Emergency Management Coordinator Allison Jester, Unified Police Department, Unified Fire Authority, Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Department, Salt Lake County Council District 4 representative Ann Granado and Salt Lake County Emergency Management Coordinator Valerie Greensides will be on hand at the day-long fair to answer questions concerning natural disaster preparation at the local, county and state levels. 

Merrill Brimhall and Scott Snow, the event directors, will coordinate and simulate a rapid earthquake damage assessment drill with the help of several Holladay residents. The earthquake drill object is for participants to become familiar with and practice the Rapid Disaster Assessment Plan already in place in the community and coordinate response efforts with the City of Holladay.

 Assessment volunteers will assess homes used in the simulation scenarios for damage, present medical needs, and immediate assistance concerns and then report the information to a central communication station. A general topics preparedness fair to educate and prepare the residents of Holladay for a potential earthquake disaster will follow the drill.

“The emergency drill is an effort to practice and familiarize the community with the Rapid Disaster Assessment Plan so that when an emergency does happen, we, as neighbors, are ready,” Snow said. “This is a family event with great emergency preparedness tips and ideas. The Emergency Preparedness Fair will include food, a kiddie’s train, and fun activities for the entire family.”

Government relief is often delayed after a disaster. Implementing a system to identify post-disaster conditions and assess needed family and individual concerns helps to prioritize relief when professional responders arrive. 

“What I love about this emergency preparedness drill Merrill and Scott have organized is they are involving so many people,” said Jester, Holladay’s Emergency Management coordinator. “It’s a learning opportunity in which everyone in the community should participate. I think it can be difficult to envision disaster and what jumping in and helping might look like without causing additional chaos.”

In Utah, knowledge about earthquake preparedness is vital because quakes have the potential to be catastrophic.

“Preparation for little emergencies makes a difference when something huge happens,” Jester said. “We might not think about an earthquake on a daily basis, but if we can think about it from the perspective of being prepared for all hazards or situations, large or small, then it becomes more relevant to our daily lives. Sometimes, preparedness can seem overwhelming. Seventy-two hour kits for each family member—including provisions for pets—can become challenging to prepare and expensive fast. The key is to start small and build. Any length of preparation for an emergency will be better than no preparation.”

The Holladay community would survive a disaster. The significant questions are how residents would survive and how they would recover. 

“The city administration supports creating a strong and robust community,” Jester said. “We encourage community members to build relationships to support each other during an emergency. Members of the community need to know and understand what an emergency response system looks like for them and know there’s a system in place in the event of disaster at the local level, the county level, the state level, and the national level.”

The Holladay Emergency Preparedness Fair will be held on Saturday, April 20, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., west of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s meetinghouse at 4500 South and 2700 East. 

For more information about emergency preparedness in Holladay, contact Jester at [email protected].

For those interested in participating in a statewide earthquake drill, on Thursday, April 18, the Utah Department of Public Safety will hold its annual Great Utah Shakeout “Drop, Cover & Hold On.” The earthquake drill will be held at 10:15 a.m. To learn more about this safety event, visit: