Kansas City Prepares for Earthquakes on Bicentennial of New Madrid

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – There weren’t any earthquakes in the Kansas City area on Tuesday, but there were a lot of people preparing for one.

The second annual Great Central U.S. Shakeout was held not coincidentally on the 200th anniversary of the New Madrid quakes on February 7, 1812.  It’s in an effort to remind people earthquakes can happen anywhere at anytime.

If you were to feel the earth move under your feet right now would you know what to do?

“You can survive an earthquake.  When the earth shakes, drop, cover your head, and hold on,” said Sue Evers, FEMA’s Earthquake Program Manager.

On Tuesday, that’s what students in the metro were learning:  how to stay safe, because although our area isn’t notorious for earthquakes, they do happen here.

“We’ve had earthquakes in Kansas, in Nebraska, in Oklahoma, lots in Arkansas, and many in Missouri,” warned Evers.

Two hundred years ago an estimated 7.7 magnitude earthquake shook parts of Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas.  It was the strongest in a series of four earthquakes that affected the New Madrid fault line.

“It caused the Mississippi River to flow backwards, and it actually dammed one of the tributaries to make Reelfoot Lake,” explained Geology Professor, Tina Niemi.

Tina Niemi, a Geology Professor at UMKC says a repeat of that deadly earthquake isn’t likely.

“The likelihood of a repeating of a magnitude seven or eight is very low, but the likelihood of an earthquake magnitude six is higher,” she said.

Niemi warns that a magnitude six is nothing to take lightly.

“Magnitude six earthquake can cause a lot of damage locally,” Niemi explained.

That’s why FEMA’s Earthquake Program Manager says it’s important to remember the earthquake that shook the area 200 years ago.

“We have to take that information, recognize it, acknowledge it, and learn from it,” Evers explained.

So if it does happen again, the effects won’t be so devastating.

FEMA has important information explaining the best way to prepare for an earthquake and what to do during and after a quake.  Go to this website to learn more:  http://www.ready.gov/earthquakes

To find out more information from the USGS about the New Madrid Earthquakes in 1812, follow these links:
http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2009/3071/ and http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/119/.

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