If you live in and around Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi you might want to consider the following – then again, if you’re reading this web site you probably already have:
In May, the federal government simulated an earthquake so massive, it killed 100,000 Midwesterners instantly, and forced more than 7 million people out of their homes. At the time, National Level Exercise 11 went largely unnoticed; the scenario seemed too far-fetched — states like Illinois and Missouri are in the middle of a tectonic plate, not at the edge of one. A major quake happens there once every several generations.
National Level Exercise 11, or NLE 11, was, in essence, a replay of a disaster that happened 200 years earlier. On Dec. 16, 1811, a magnitude 7.7 earthquake hit the New Madrid fault line, which lies on the border region of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. It’s by far the largest earthquake ever to strike the United States east of the Rockies. Up to 129,000 square kilometers [50,000 square miles] were hit with “raised or sunken lands, fissures, sinks, sand blows, and large landslides,” according to the U.S. Geological Service. “Huge waves on the Mississippi River overwhelmed many boats and washed others high onto the shore. High banks caved and collapsed into the river; sand bars and points of islands gave way; whole islands disappeared.” People as far away as New York City were awakened by the shaking.
More quakes, of a similar size, followed. But the loss of life was minimal: Not too many people lived in the area at the time. Today, there are more than 15 million people living in the quake zone. If a similar quake hit, “7.2 million people could be displaced, with 2 million seeking temporary shelter” in the first three days, FEMA Associate Adminsitrator William Carwile told a Congressional panel in 2010. “Direct economic losses for the eight states could total nearly $300 billion, while indirect losses at least twice that amount.”
Source: Wired Danger Room
Though there is debate over whether or not a New Madrid earthquake is due, the prudent thing to do would be for every individual and family to prepare. The Federal government will be capable of a very limited response, especially in a region-wide disaster on the scale of a 7.7 quake. This means that if it, or even a lower magnitude quake were to take place, individuals would be on their own, and it would be a long time before help arrived:
“Electric power would go out, not for days, but for weeks and months in the four state region,” he said. “Municipal water systems, they all run on electricity, don’t they? Well, people are gonna get thirsty. You need water for firefighting, don’t you? Second, all gasoline pumps run on electric power. Same with diesel fuel. So in terms of road mobility, of getting the relief forces in, and evacuating people out — no gasoline? The cascading failures go on and on.”
In such an event, there would likely be significant strain on the rest of the nation as well. It has also been postulated that a large enough quake in the region could potentially cause flooding for hundreds of miles, literally expanding the width of the Mississippi River and potentially submerging areas of Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
In addition to the well known natural potential for a major earthquake in this area, oil drilling utilizing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has been active on a mass scale, theoretically increasing the likelihood of a major earthquake:
Canadian Geologist Jack Century crusades against induced seismicity from irresponsible drilling. In a 2009 speech before the Peace River Environmental Society, he provided a brief explanation of how fracking induces earthquakes, completely refuting industry denial that fracking causes quakes. Fracking induces not only micro- and mini-seismic actions that can compromise the integrity of well casings, but also large earthquakes registering on the order of 5 to 7 on the Richter Scale, resulting in human deaths.
Source: Activist Post
While quakes may be a normal occurrence in Arkansas and the surrounding region, recent earthquake data is alarming and may be the reason why the government has been performing simulations and drills:
When comparing Arkansas’ earthquake history with its drilling history, a causative correlation becomes obvious.
The entire 19th century saw 15 recorded earthquakes and none in the first decade of the new century. A total of 694 quakes rocked Arkansas in the 20th century. That number was surpassed in 2009-2010, with the bulk (483) occurring the last three months of 2010.
Source: Activist Post
It’s clear that the potential for a major event in this area is more likely now than at any time in the last 100 years.
FEMA and local emergency management personnel should be focusing their preparedness efforts directly on the individuals in these regions, advising those who live within the seismic zones that in an emergency, no one will be coming to assist, or response will be limited. Currently, the overwhelming focus of their efforts is direct response from government personnel.
Rather than “See Something, Say Something” DHS ads at local grocery stores and retail outlets, perhaps a better strategy would be to promote individual preparedness concepts such as asking people if they have a 30 day preparedness plan, and then going on to describe essential strategies in the event of a an earthquake emergency that include information such as:
- Water and Food
- Medical Supplies
- Disaster Tools
- Emergency Evacuations Plans
- What to do when an earthquake strikes if you’re outside, in your home, or in your car
- And, dealing with critical rescue response if a friend or family member has been trapped under debris
We urge those of our readers in these areas to learn more about personal earthquake response, as well as to coordinate efforts with friends and family outside of the seismic regions in the event you have to evacuate. This includes preparing yourself and family for making the evacuation journey on foot, bikes, or four wheel vehicles, as well as multiple pick-up locations where your contacts can meet you along your evacuation route and when (i.e. — within 3 days of quake we should be here, etc.).