The United States Congress, in 1977, enacted the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act, in recognition of the fact that earthquakes pose the greatest potential threat of any single-event natural hazard confronting the nation. The Act directed the President of the United States to “establish and maintain an effective earthquake hazards reduction program.”
Congress then created the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, which gave lead responsibility to the federal government to provide direction, coordination, research and other support to efforts aimed at earthquake hazard mitigation and preparedness. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) were assigned specific roles. Recommendations were included on the duties of state governments, local governments, private organizations and individuals.
While national attention focused on high-risk areas such as California, which has visible surface faults and frequent earthquakes, pioneering research on the danger of earthquakes in the central United States was being conducted by the late Dr. Otto Nuttli of St. Louis University. Dr. Nuttli’s research provided the conclusive evidence that prompted the seven states to form CUSEC in October of 1983. FEMA, which had been assigned by Congress the responsibility for coordination of regional earthquake hazard reduction programs, created the Central United States Earthquake Preparedness Project (CUSEPP) to help the states in planning preparedness/mitigation, response and recovery. A contract between FEMA and the seven states was awarded on April 11, 1984, and the foundation for CUSEC was complete.
The primary mission of the organization, as set forth by the Board of Directors, is “…the reduction of deaths, injuries, property damage and economic losses resulting from earthquakes in the central United States”.
Basic funding was initiated and continues to be provided by FEMA under Cooperative Agreement #EMW-84-C-1671. In addition, Corporate, State and local sponsors participate in the program.
CUSEC was incorporated as a nonprofit entity, formed expressly for “charitable, scientific and educational purposes”. More specifically, CUSEC seeks to fulfill the ambitious goals of the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977; planning, public education and mitigation. Authority for CUSEC is vested in the Board of Directors, which is composed of the directors of emergency management from the seven charter member states.
Events and Activities that have shaped CUSEC
- 1984 – CUSEC established with funding support from FEMA; Board of Directors comprised of seven State Emergency Management Directors; Erie Jones selected as first Executive Director.
- 1985 – CUSEC sponsors National Earthquake Conference in St. Louis; first CUSEC office established in Marion, IL.
- 1986 – “Six City Study” completed; CUSEC states provided with vulnerability analysis of “critical facilities;” Mexico City earthquake occurred; urban search and rescue recognized as a major problem.
- 1987 – Digitized Management of Resource Information (DMRI) is launched – represents CUSEC’s initial attempt at coordinated information management.
- 1988 – FEMA/USGS Earthquake Awareness Preparedness seminars “spread the word” through Dr. Walt Hays and colleagues; seminars successfiilly raise awareness and build constituencies in the Central U.S.
- 1989 – Seismic research needs are emphasized; awareness workshops are held in each of the CUSEC states; Dr. Otto Nuttli, pioneering researcher, passes away. CUSEC moves to Memphis; Memorandums of Agreement established with QAS, ARC, and USGS; Loma Prieta earthquake and Hurricane Hugo focus attention on need for effective intergovernmental planning for response and recovery; CUSEC publishes The Fault Line newsletter.
- 1990 – Browning prediction stirs the nation; U.S./Latin-American Partnership established; corporate outreach is emphasized; Associate states are added to CUSEC; Professional Advisory Groups are formed as effort to coordinate planning among specific disciplines.
- 1991 – Centers for Disease Control liaison established; Response 91-A exposes flaws in functional planning; CUSEC Corporate Sponsors program formally initiated.
- 1992 – American Red Cross liaison established; Hurricane Andrew highlights the need for pre-disaster planning and training for catastrophic disasters; Insurance and Mitigation project gains momentum.
- 1993 – CUSEC co-sponsors National Earthquake Conference in Memphis; CUSEC Journal is published; Natural Disaster Protection Act of 1993 is introduced.
- 1994 – Pilot Mitigation 101 Workshop and first ATC-20T – Post Earthquake Safety Evaluation of Buildings training are held in St. Louis, MO.
- 1995 – CUSEC / Latin American Partnership program participates in a series of DOE/CUSEC sponsored electric utility workshops throughout the central U.S.
- 1996 – CUSEC announces its Disaster Resistant Community model as part of its new approach to earthquake/disaster preparedness and mitigation.
- 1997 – CUSEC and its members participate in “CAT-97” an Interactive Policy Seminar designed to explore the decision making process and the consequences of those decisions as they affect the provisioning of basic human needs should a catastrophic disaster occur.
- 1999 – CUSEC along with three core organizations, Institute for Business and Home Safety, Mid America Earthquake Center, and the Association of CUSEC State Geologists, set out to develop a partnership approach for addressing the earthquake risk in the Central U.S.
- 2000 – CUSEC forms the CUSEC State Transportation Task Force. The Task Force will address regional transportation related issues with respect to an earthquake in the central U.S. The Task Force is made up of representatives from each of the CUSEC states.
- 2002 – CUSEC launches Post Earthquake Technical Information Clearinghouse (PETIC) effort; In response to a growing demand to address the response needs of the research community, CUSEC develops first draft of the PETIC plan which is designed to follow the national plan under development by USGS.
- 2003 – CUSEC Celebrates twentieth anniversary; Alabama is voted in as eighth full member of CUSEC by Board of Directors.
- 2004 – CUSEC helps coordinate the 2004 National Earthquake Conference in St. Louis, Missouri; CUSEC and others revitalizes the annual National Earthquake Program Managers Meeting in conjunction with the NEC.
- 2005 – CUSEC coordinates and hosts the National Earthquake Program Managers Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana; Hurricane Katrina strikes the Gulf Coast, becoming the Nation’s costliest natural disaster in history.
- 2006 – CUSEC begins the New Madrid Seismic Zone Catastrophic Planning Initiative, an eight-state planning in This multi-year, multi-agency initiative is funded by the Dept. of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency.
- 2007 – CUSEC helps Member States coordinate a unified Earthquake Awareness Week
- 2008 – CUSEC celebrates it’s 25th Anniversary and continues work on the New Madrid Planning Initiative
- 2011 – CUSEC coordinates the first regional Great Central U.S. ShakeOut Earthquake Drill, with more than 3 million participants in eleven states; CUSEC and Member States participate in NLE-2011; A M5.8 earthquake strikes Virginia on August 23, and is felt by an estimated 100 million people.
- 2012 – CUSEC receives FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Award for improving disaster preparedness during the Great ShakeOut; Planning begins for CAPSTONE-14; CUSEC coordinates the first Great SouthEast ShakeOut earthquake drill with more than 2 million participants.
- 2014 – CUSEC States organize and lead CAPSTONE-14, the largest ever state-led exercise and training initiative.
- 2015 – CUSEC GIS/IT Working Group receives FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Award for innovations in regional situational awareness and information sharing during CAPSTONE-14; CUSEC States participate in first EMAC exercise of post-earthquake building inspectors as an after-action to CAPSTONE-14.
- 2016 – CUSEC completes a major, mulit-year information sharing project in coordination with the Delta Regional Authority, Dept. of Homeland Security, FEMA, Motorola Solutions Foundation, and others.