KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Today, as we commemorate the 200th anniversary of the first of three devastating earthquakes that struck the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) in 1811-12, Bloomfield Elementary School unveils how funds from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are helping protect its students against similar devastation today.
Funds from FEMA’s National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) will reimburse Bloomfield Elementary School approximately $10,000 for mitigation measures it’s taken to fortify structures against damage from a prospective earthquake. The project was initiated because scientists estimate the probability of a magnitude 6.0 or larger earthquake occurring along the NMSZ within any 50 year period is 25-40 percent.
Today the school opens its doors to show the public what has been done to minimize the risk of earthquake damage. Vending machines have been affixed to walls and computers to desks because most earthquake-related injuries and fatalities result from falling objects. Lighting fixtures and bookcases have also been secured, and an automatic shutoff valve has been installed on the gas line.
“Mitigating to protect Bloomfield Elementary School was a wise thing to do because much of the daytime population, especially in small towns likes those found in the New Madrid area, is inside schools,” said Bob Bissell, FEMA Region VII Mitigation Division Director. “We’re hoping this project will serve as a model for neighboring schools also at risk on or near the New Madrid Seismic Zone. FEMA and the state of Missouri are making strides in the right direction and plan to keep working with school districts to fund additional projects that reduce the risk of earthquake damage.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s NEHRP funds are administered by the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) through the National Earthquake State Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program. To date the NEHRP, as administered by SEMA, has funded 13 projects and expended more than $62,000 in Missouri. Some of the funds were used to promote The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut (an earthquake drill for the public) event in April, and more NEHRP funds will be used for the 2012 ShakeOut. Nearly a half million Missourians registered for April’s “drop, cover and hold on” drill. The national NEHRP fund supports the Central United States Earthquake Consortium, which promotes earthquake awareness and mitigation efforts throughout the region.
“It’s not a matter of IF another major earthquake will occur in the New Madrid Seismic Zone; it’s a matter of WHEN, so we’re working with Missouri to prepare right now,” said Bissell.
Individuals living in or around the New Madrid Seismic Zone are encouraged to visit CUSEC online at www.cusec.org/earthquake-safety.html, or www.ready.gov, for tips on how to protect lives and property from earthquake damage.
Learn more about the history of earthquakes in Missouri at the Web site for the U.S. Geological Survey, www.usgs.gov (earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/states/index.php?regionID=25).
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.