Columbia, SC -- A system of shock absorbers at the South Carolina State House were installed back when the building was going through renovations from 1995-1998. The price tag, $11 million.
The state installed about 200 base isolators underneath the State House. They're made of steel plates and rubber and go between the building and the ground. If there's an earthquake, the isolators can move up to 8 inches in any direction.
The late Senator Verne Smith of Greer insisted on the system to protect third graders who tour the State House. "They visit as part of their curriculum, to visit the Statehouse every spring," Mike Frick, the project architect, says. "And he (Verne Smith) said we don't want to have an earthquake and have the dome collapse on these school children so we want to make it safe."
Frick says when the system was put in, it was the only building east of the Mississippi that had one. To install the base isolators, workers had to dig under the State House, pour new concrete footings, and put the isolators between the footings and the building. State House security officers who were there Friday night say they didn't feel anything.