CUSEC News & Events
Just before 9:00PM CST on Wednesday, November 17, 2021, a magnitude 4.0 earthquake occurred near Poplar Bluff, Missouri. The earthquake occurred along what is most commonly referred to as the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ), a system of faults that stretches from northeast Arkansas and southeastern Missouri into Southern Illinois. Although dozens — if not hundreds — of small earthquakes occur along the NMSZ each year, the M4.0 earthquake near Poplar Bluff was the largest earthquake to be recorded in Missouri in a number of years.
The temblor is a not-so-subtle reminder that the central United States is indeed earthquake country. Numerous large, damaging earthquakes have struck the region in the past and according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), there is a 25-40% chance of a damaging earthquake (M6.0 or greater) occurring in the central U.S. in the next 50 years. There is a 7-10% chance of a M7.0 or greater occurring within the same time period. The USGS, which monitors seismic activity in the United States, maintains a citizen-based reporting program called “Did You Feel It?” (DYFI).
So far, more than 5,200 people across eight states have logged what they felt using the DYFI program. The majority of reports came from citizens in Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee, with the most intense shaking felt in the Poplar Bluff area. Many people on social media also reported feeling the earthquake.
Below are a number of news articles referencing the M4.0 Poplar Bluff earthquake.
The M4.0 Poplar Bluff earthquake on November 17, 2021 was recorded at an earthquake monitoring station at the CUSEC headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee. The station, along with many others in the region, is operated and monitored by the Center for Earthquake Research and Information (CERI) at the University of Memphis.
Following FEMA’s “National Preparedness Month” in September, individuals and communities throughout the Nation are encouraged to participate in the annual Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drill. Held annually on the third Thursday of October, the ShakeOut International Day of Action is set for Thursday, October 21. During the self-led drill, millions of people practice how to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On”. For most people, in most situations, the recommended earthquake safety action is to:
According to CUSEC Executive Director Jim Wilkinson, “Although we have all been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in some way, the threat of an earthquake in looms. Recent earthquakes, such as the August 2021 M7.2 quake in Haiti, remind us that this is the case. Citizens can learn how to protect themselves, their families, and businesses against earthquakes and other disasters by participating in preparedness and safety events such as Great ShakeOut Drills and National Preparedness Month.”
The ShakeOut is free and open to the public, and participants include individuals, schools, businesses, local and state government agencies, and many other groups. To take part in the ShakeOut, individuals and organizations are asked to join the drill by registering to participate www.shakeout.org. Once registered, participants receive regular information on how to plan their drill and become better prepared for earthquakes and other disasters.
In 2020, more than 29 million people participated in ShakeOut drills nationwide.
The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut is being coordinated by CUSEC and our Member and Associate States, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Geological Survey, and dozens of other partners. ShakeOut is coordinated globally by the Southern California Earthquake Center in Los Angeles, California.
COVID concerns nationwide and ongoing travel restrictions for many of the attendees interested in attending make it prudent for us to postpone the Central U.S. Earthquake Insurance Summit, scheduled for September 28-29, 2021 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Summit is temporarily postponed until spring of 2022. Stay tuned to the CUSEC website for updates.
Experts say that the New Madrid Seismic Zone, the largest active zone in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains, is at risk for a major earthquake. However, earthquake insurance coverage in the highest risk areas of the New Madrid seismic zone has dropped dramatically in recent years, widening the gap between the insured and the uninsured. This leaves states with a significant challenge as they look at planning for a successful recovery following an event in which the economic losses are expected to reach $300 billion.
To address this issue, several organizations have partnered together to organize the first ever Central U.S. Earthquake Insurance Summit. Scheduled scheduled for Spring 2022 in St. Louis, Missouri, the Summit is being organized by the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency, Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance, FEMA Region VII, and CUSEC. The purpose of the Summit is to bring together the insurance industry, regulators, government officials and emergency management professionals to forge new ideas to begin “closing the gap.”
The Summit is open to anyone interested in earthquake insurance and earthquake resiliency issues. More information, including a detailed program agenda, hotel information, and registration, can be found at www.centralusquakesummit.org.