CHICAGO, Ill. -- Today marks the 199th anniversary of one of the largest earthquakes to ever strike the United States. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Ready Campaign is encouraging all Americans to prepare for earthquakes and other disasters by making a new year’s resolution to “Resolve to be Ready” in 2011.
"Today’s anniversary should serve as an important reminder to all of us that disasters can strike anytime, anywhere,” said Andrew Velasquez III, regional administrator for FEMA Region V. “FEMA continues to work with the entire federal family, state and local governments, the private sector, and faith-based and non-profit organizations to prepare for the next disaster. Individuals, families, and businesses can resolve to be ready and take simple steps now to prepare for emergencies by visiting Ready.gov for free tips and ideas.”
The earthquake took place in the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ), which is the site of several of the largest historical earthquakes to ever strike the continental United States and remains a significant risk today. On December 16, 1811 the first of these quakes struck what is now the location of Memphis, Tenn., at a level nine intensity – and the impacts were felt as far away as Washington and Ohio. By the time the final quake occurred on February 7, 1812 in New Madrid, Mo., the shaking had forced sand to erupt at the surface, triggered landslides and caused large areas to be uplifted or dropped down in elevation.
Since then, communities along the NMSZ have experienced explosive growth in both population and infrastructure. Another series of earthquakes with the magnitude of the 1811 earthquakes 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 in April, and the 2011 National Level Exercise. These events are designed to educate Americans on what they can do to be better prepared for earthquakes, as well as 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 and other emergencies, please visit www.Ready.gov. For more information on Resolve to be Ready in 2011, visit www.Ready.gov/resolve2011. For more information on the Great Central U.S. Shakeout, visit http://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.