FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Memphis, TN — As seen in the recent updates to the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Seismic Hazard Maps, the central U.S. remains susceptible to damaging earthquakes. Based on these maps and current understanding of the regional threat, there is at least a 25-40% chance of a M6.0 or greater occurring in the New Madrid Seismic Zone within a fifty year window. New Madrid, however, isn’t the only area in the region that can have large earthquakes. The Wabash Valley Seismic Zone (southeastern Illinois and Southwestern Indiana) and the East Tennessee Seismic Zone (northeastern Alabama and eastern Tennessee) are also capable of producing magnitude 6 earthquakes, which was the size of the August 24th earthquake near Napa, California.
Sunday’s Napa earthquake serves as a reminder that earthquakes frequently happen with little to no warning, a problem that the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC), its Member and Associate States, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and a variety of public and private sector partners have been working to address in recent years.
For instance, CUSEC recently led a major full-scale exercise designed to test emergency multi-jurisdictional response and communication plans. The exercise, known as CAPSTONE-14, identified common functions and systems that will be needed following a major New Madrid event. While many systems performed as expected, CUSEC is finishing an exercise “after-action report” which will provide States with a set of regional lessons learned and recommendations.
As part of this on-going central U.S. multi-state earthquake planning collaborative, CUSEC is hosting a special “earthquake orientation” in Memphis on Tuesday, August 26 for newly appointed State Emergency Management Directors from Missouri and Kentucky, along with senior Directors from Alabama and Mississippi. These Directors also serve on the CUSEC Board of Directors. The purpose of the orientation is to give the new Board members a better understanding of the central U.S. earthquake hazard and its associated risks. Armed with up-to-date information from this orientation, they will be better equipped to prepare their agencies’ mitigation, response, and recovery efforts for a no notice (seismic) event. CUSEC routinely hosts earthquake orientations for its new State Directors and Earthquake Program Managers, and planning for this orientation began in June.
In addition to these activities, CUSEC is also actively engaged in public outreach and education activities designed to improve earthquake preparedness across the general public. One of the most publicly visible activities is the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut earthquake drill, which will occur on October 16 in 2014. Following National Preparedness Month in September, this annual drill involves nearly 3 million people in earthquake safety, mitigation, and preparedness activities. Participants are encouraged to:
- Practice “Drop, Cover, and Hold On”, the recommended personal protective action to take during an earthquake,
- Secure items in their homes and workplaces and,
- Update disaster supply kits and emergency plans.
ShakeOut is coordinated by CUSEC and its Member and Associate States including Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. For more information about earthquake preparedness or mitigation, individuals are encouraged to visit www.cusec.org or www.shakeout.org/centralus.