KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Starting tomorrow, on the 199th anniversary of one of the largest earthquakes ever to strike the United States, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will begin a concerted effort to encourage all Americans to prepare for earthquakes and other disasters by making a new year's resolution to "Resolve to be Ready" in 2011. It only takes a few simple steps to prepare for emergencies, and anyone can visit www.Ready.gov to learn more.
"Disaster preparedness isn't just the responsibility of the government," said FEMA Region VII Administrator Beth Freeman. "Prepared families and businesses are important team players in the response and recovery efforts after an emergency. December 16 should serve as an important reminder to all of us that disasters can strike anytime, anywhere. Preparing you and your family for emergencies is a great resolution for the coming year – it's simple and an easy resolution to keep."
The earthquake took place in the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ), the site of several of the largest earthquakes to ever strike the continental United States and an area that remains a significant risk today. On December 16, 1811, the first of these quakes struck what is now the location of Memphis, Tennessee at a level nine intensity. The impacts were felt as far away as Washington, D.C. and Ohio. By the time the final quake occurred on February 7, 1812, in New Madrid, Missouri, the shaking had forced sand to erupt at the surface, triggered landslides, and caused ground elevation changes over large areas.
Since then, the regions along the NMSZ have experienced explosive growth in both population and infrastructure. Another series of earthquakes of similar intensity today could prove catastrophic to the region.
FEMA and its federal partners, non-governmental organizations, and state and local officials will collaborate on a series of outreach efforts, partnerships and events over the next year – including Earthquake Preparedness Month in February, the Great Central U.S. Shakeout and the 2011 National Level Exercise (NLE 2011). These events are designed to educate Americans on what they can do to be better prepared for earthquakes and other catastrophic events.
Individuals and their families can take the following steps to prepare for earthquakes:
- Get an emergency supply kit;
- Make a family communications plan;
- Stay informed of the risks in your community;
- Check for hazards in the home;
- Identify safe places indoors and outdoors; and
- Educate yourself and family members.
For more information on preparing for an earthquake or other emergencies, please visit www.Ready.gov. For more information on resolving to be ready in 2011, visit www.Ready.gov/resolve2011. For more information on The Great Central U.S. Shakeout, visit www.shakeout.org/centralus/.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders and ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.