Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Earthquakes in the Midwest: Who's Prepared?

Not good news:

Tennessee is the only one of eight states in the Central United States Earthquake Consortium to finish its revision to the Catastrophic Event Annex of our state's emergency-management plan.
Anyone in the Midwest who's unprepared for a major earthquake simply doesn't appreciate history. In 1811 and 1812, three enormous quakes in the New Madrid seismic zone devastated a wide area. Fortunately the population was very low at the time. But today? Memphis and St. Louis are both in the zone and could sustain major damage from a big quake.

Check out November's report by the Mid-America Earthquake Center, which said:
[T]he total economic impact of a series of New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) earthquakes is likely to constitute by far the highest economic loss due to a natural disaster in the USA.

An earthquake of magnitude 7, as has been predicted, or a recurrence of the 1811-1812 series could have devastating impacts on the region, with considerable national repercussions, as transportation routes, natural gas and oil transmission pipelines are broken and services are interrupted. Preliminary estimates, including those completed by the Mid-America Earthquake Center (MAEC), found that economic losses from a magnitude 7.7 (Mw7.7) event in the NMSZ could reach $50-$80 billion dollars in direct losses alone. Additionally, there could be thousands of fatalities, tens of thousands of injured victims, and even hundreds of thousands left without homes.

According to Hildenbrand et al. (1996), the chance of a magnitude 6 or 7 earthquake occurring within the next 50 years is roughly 90%.
1812 seems like a long time ago, but complacency is unforgivable.

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