7 million people at risk of massive New Madrid quake

Experts fear worst when big one finally hits

Megan Lynch
October 16, 2019 - 12:28 pm
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — Drop, cover, and hold on. That's probably all you be able to do when the big one hits.

And have no doubt, experts tell KMOX we're due for a major earthquake.

Jeff Briggs, Earthquake Program Manager for the Missouri State Emergency Management, says we live in one of the largest active earthquake zones in the US, east of the Rocky Mountains. More than 200 measurable quakes a year happen in the New Madrid Seismic Zone centered in Southeast Missouri. "There are roughly 7 million people who live in the high impact area who would be affected by a New Madrid Seismic Zone."

Experts believe the 7-plus magnitude quakes the region experienced in the early 1800s are an indication we'll be hit again. They were felt across the Eastern US.

Briggs warns you will have absolutely no advanced warning, no time to prepare when the shaking starts.   

"Falling debris is what's going to hurt the vast majority of people," he explains. "Day one after a big New Madrid Seismic Zone earthquake, we estimate about 2.5 million people will be without power, and more than a million people will be without water, and they could be without those services for up to two weeks."

Briggs adds an estimated 3,500 people could be killed with more than 80,000 injured.

What can you do right now? Get disaster supplies ready, of course.

Another safety measure Briggs recommends is to get heavy objects off high shelves and secure large furniture to the wall.

Briggs says you should practice what you'll do the instant the earth starts to shake — drop to the ground, cover yourself either with furniture, or cover your head with your arms, and hold on until the shaking stops.  In fact, half a million people in Missouri will practice those techniques as part of the Great ShakeOut.

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