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release 101216

On the 199th Anniversary of the New Madrid Quake, FEMA urges the public to be prepared today

FEMA News Desk
Contact: 202-646-3272
For Immediate Release
No.: HQ-10-226
December 16, 2010

Visit ready.gov to learn a few simple steps every family should take.

WASHINGTON — Today, on the 199th anniversary of one of the largest earthquakes ever to strike the U.S., 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. It only takes a few simple steps to prepare for emergencies, and anyone can visit ready.gov to learn more.

"FEMA is not the team, we're only part of the team," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "We are constantly working 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, but we will only be as successful as the public is prepared. Today, the 199th anniversary of one of the largest earthquakes to strike the United States, 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 easy to keep. Visit ready.gov for 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 U.S. and remains a significant risk today. On December 16, 1811, the first of these quakes struck in the NMSZ. The earthquake caused strong shaking throughout the central U.S. --including in what is now the location of Memphis, Tenn., and its impacts were felt as far away as Washington and Ohio. Each of these earthquakes caused sand to erupt at the surface, triggered landslides and was followed by dozens of large aftershocks. The largest of the earthquake in the series, which occurred February 7, 1812, in New Madrid, Mo., caused large areas to be uplifted or dropped down in elevation.

Since then, the regions 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, leading up to the 200th anniversary of the New Madrid quake - including Earthquake Awareness 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 ready.gov. For more information on resolving to be ready in 2011, visit ready.gov/resolve2011. For more information on The Great Central U.S. Shakeout, visit shakeout.org/centralus/.


FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to 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.

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Last updated: 11/07/2011 - 04:54 PM