At 10:15am CST, 2.2 million people across 9 states will seek refuge from a major earthquake along the New Madrid fault. People will drop to the ground before the shaking topples them, they will take cover under a sturdy object like a table or beside a bed, and they will hold on until the shaking stops a few minutes later.
No, I’m not predicting that a major earthquake will strike today. We will not the day nor the hour which such things will take place. I’m talking about the Great Shakeout 2012 for the Central US.
The New Madrid Fault
It was 200 years ago today at 4:45am when the fourth and final of the major earthquakes that struck along the New Madrid fault occurred. The series of earthquakes along the fault line was so powerful that some of them could be felt as far away as Boston, Massachusetts and York, Ontario. They cracked sidewalks in Washington, DC and toppled chimneys in Maine. They even caused the mighty Mississippi River to flow backwards for a time, filling a large lake in northwest Tennessee.
That’s a powerful earthquake! One of the most powerful to have hit the US. It’s estimated to have been between a 7.5 and 8.0 magnitude seismic event.
And there is a 7 to 10 percent chance of it occurring again within the next 50 years according to seismologists.
Are you ready? Do you know what to do? That’s what the Great Shakeout is all about. Educating the populace.
After the Quake
What about after the event? Suppose you live through the initial shaking and damage that occurs. Are you prepared for the disruption of services afterward? Consider this:
- Major oil and gas pipelines will be severed preventing the flow of the precious fuels to the New England and other areas.
- Roads and bridges that connect the eastern half of the US with the states west of the Mississippi will be destroyed, disrupting the transportation of much needed supplies like food for months if not years.
- Emergency personnel at the local, state, and even national levels will be completely overwhelmed by the staggering scale of such an event in an area of the country that is not used to living with such possibilities and has not prepared mentally or physically for the event.
What to do?
Should you participate in the Great Shakeout 2012? It’s a fair question that I cannot answer for you. My take on it is that it will be little more than “a test of the emergency broadcast system.” Will it make us better prepared? I’m doubtful.
Hopefully though, it may inspire some would-be preppers to get off the fence and begin taking serious steps toward becoming more prepared for disasters. Whether it’s a personal disaster such a losing a job, or a nationwide disaster like an 8.0 earthquake along the New Madrid fault, having the peace of mind that preparedness brings is well worth the effort of preparing.
So, will this being a 2 minute drill for you at 10:15am? Or will you heed the call and prepare for uncertain times?