As we watch the world deal with the devastating effects of the earthquake in Japan, and the aftershocks that have continued to ravage that country, many may be thankful that they don’t have to deal with earthquakes here.
But there are several regions in the U.S. that might consider doing some planning for an earthquake. California might be top of mind when it comes to earthquakes. However, there are serious concerns over fault lines in the Midwest.
The New Madrid fault spans from northeast Arkansas to southern Illinois, passing through Missouri, western Tennessee and western Kentucky. The Wabash Valley fault is located along the Wabash River between southeastern Illinois and Indiana.
The New Madrid earthquake series that occurred in 1811 and 1812 includes some of the largest earthquakes in U.S. history, with estimated shock magnitudes of 7 to 8 and several hundreds of aftershocks.
According to the United States Geological Survey, the perception of strong shaking during this earthquake series was estimated to be two to three times larger than the 1964 Alaska earthquake and about 10 times larger than the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
Historically the size of earthquakes in the Wabash Valley do not reach the magnitude of the New Madrid, but it has been reported that this fault poses a high risk of damage with magnitudes that could reach up to 7.
A 2009 study by the Mid-America Earthquake Center found that if the New Madrid earthquakes of the 1800s occurred today it would have a devastating impact. According to some news reports it would dwarf the catastrophic damages of any natural disaster this nation has ever experienced. Results from the Mid-America Earthquake Center study indicate nearly 7.2 million people would be homeless, 2.6 million households without power, 130 hospitals damaged and $300 billion in economic losses.
It’s unknown when and if an earthquake could happen, but there is a better chance of an earthquake occurring in this area than winning the lottery, says Steve Cain, Extension Disaster Education Network Homeland Security Project Director.
There are steps that you can take to prepare your operation, in the event that an earthquake would occur. The four steps are:
1. Get a kit
2. Make a plan
3. Be informed
4. Get involved
The first step is to get a kit. This means that you gather enough food and water for the number of days you think it would take emergency personnel to get to you. This is typically three to five days, says Cain. But if the New Madrid or Wabash fault had an earthquake of 8 or 9 you’d be looking at five or more days of food storage.