Kansas City, MO February 4, 2001 -- Any resident of the Midwest who thinks this part of the country is immune to earthquakes and that they only occur in California or overseas should consider these facts:
- Residents of northwest Missouri know that earthquakes can happen anywhere. The Nemaha Fault, long thought to be inactive, runs under Topeka, Kan., north to Lincoln, Neb., with a branch that runs under St. Joseph. Residents of rural northwest Missouri occasionally report tremors.
- Home of the New Madrid Fault where the largest earthquake in the continental United States occurred, Missouri's Bootheel region experiences approximately 200-250 minor tremors annually.
- On Aug. 22, 2000, a 3.9-magnitude earthquake struck the town of Warm Springs, Ark.
- A 3.4-magnitude earthquake occurred on the Kansas-Missouri state line near Kansas City on May 14, 1999.
The death toll from the 7.9-magnitude earthquake that recently devastated western India stands at nearly 20,000 and is expected to go higher. What would one of such strength do if it happened in your community? What would such an earthquake anywhere on the New Madrid Fault mean to our region? Scientists say that almost all residents of Missouri and of much of the region would feel movement, from doors swinging open and dishes breaking farther from the epicenter, to slight damage to structures especially built to withstand earthquakes and destruction of most masonry and frame structures close to the earthquake site, with damage to bridges, dams, railroads and highways.
Though devastating, earthquakes are survivable. Here are a few preparedness tips you and your family should take before an earthquake occurs:
- Buy earthquake insurance.
- Buy a 20-gallon garbage can and fill it with emergency supplies.
- Retrofit your home to make it more resistant to earthquake damage.
- Educate your children about earthquake safety.
- Anchor heavy furniture, shelves, cupboards and appliances to the walls or floor.
- Store dangerous chemicals such as flammable liquids and poisons in a secure place.
- Learn how to shut off the gas, electricity and water.
- Have money in savings for post-catastrophic expenses that aren't covered by your earthquake insurance policy. These expenses may include higher deductible, repair or replacement claims that exceed your policy limits.
And here's what you should do if an earthquake does strike:
- Duck, cover and hold. If you are inside, crawl under a heavy piece of furniture and hold on or get under a doorframe.
- If you are outside, stay in an open area.
- If you are in your car, stop driving.
- Do not use elevators.
After the shaking stops, check yourself and others for injuries, check ...