Missouri officials are buying a piece of equipment that simulates the experience of being in an earthquake to prepare residents for a big tremblor in a region that saw one of the most powerful earthquakes east of the Rocky Mountains in the 1800s.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the nearly $200,000 simulator is built into a large cargo trailer that is decorated like a small house. Special hydraulics shake it violently for 5 to 10 seconds, giving riders the feel of a magnitude 8.0 earthquake. It also illustrates how pictures and other household items can become projectiles if not properly secured.

Armed with federal funding, the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency submitted documents last month seeking a no-bid contract to purchase the simulator. The plan is to use a two-person team to take the unit through the Bootheel region, where the New Madrid fault is located.

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