Midwest Not Immune To Earthquakes

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Release date: 
January 16, 2002
Release Number: 
R7-02-02

Kansas City, MO -- Recent earthquake activity in the New Madrid Seismic Zone serves as a gentle reminder that earthquakes can occur in the Midwest. During the month of December, ten minor earthquakes were recorded in the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

The New Madrid Fault, which runs from northeast Arkansas to southern Illinois, through the Missouri Bootheel, was the site of the three largest earthquakes in North America during the winter of 1811-1812. Missouri's Bootheel region experiences approximately 200-250 minor tremors annually.

The Nemaha Fault, long thought to be inactive, runs from Wichita, Kan., north under Manhattan and Topeka, Kan., to Lincoln, Neb., with a branch that runs under St. Joseph, Mo. Residents of rural northwest Missouri occasionally report tremors. Small earthquakes were reported in 2001 by residents of Oberlin and Augusta, Kan.

The January 2001 Gujarat, India earthquake has been designated the deadliest disaster of 2001, killing an estimated 15,500 people.

Events such as the India earthquake should cause communities to re-evaluate their own risk. What would such an earthquake anywhere along the New Madrid or Nemaha faults mean to our region?

Though devastating, earthquakes are survivable. Here are a few preparedness tips you and your family should take before an earthquake occurs:

  • Buy a large plastic container with a tight-fitting lid and fill it with emergency supplies, such as cash, drinking water, canned food and can opener, flashlight, battery-operated radio, batteries, clothing and first aid supplies. A detailed emergency supply list can be found on www.fema.gov/hazards/earthquakes/quakef.shtm or www.redcross.org/services/disaster/beprepared
  • 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. Make sure you have any necessary tools
  • Buy earthquake insurance
  • Have money in savings for post-catastrophic expenses that are not covered by your earthquake insurance policy (expenses may include higher deductible, repair or replacement claims that exceed your policy limits)

And here is 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 a vehicle, make sure you are away from overpasses, buildings and power lines. Stop your vehicle and remain inside until the shaking stops
  • Do not use elevators

After the shaking stops:

  • Check yourself and others for injuries
  • Check water, gas and electric lines for damage
  • Avoid using matches, telephone or cell phones
  • Stay away from damaged areas and out of the way of emergency personnel
  • Turn on your battery-powered radio for lifesaving information
  • Expect aftershocks

For additional information, contact Linda Winkler, FEMA Region VII public affairs officer, at (816) 283-7080. Visit the following web sites for preparedness tips and for what to do before, during an...

Last Updated: 
July 19, 2012 - 23:02
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
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