Gov. Haley Barbour declares Earthquake Awareness Week

PEARL – Northwest Mississippi counties are at risk for a severe earthquake in the future. In an effort to educate residents about the potential for earthquakes, Governor Haley Barbour has declared January 26 – 30, Mississippi’s Earthquake Awareness Week.

“An earthquake is a very real threat to Mississippians,” Governor Barbour said. “It is extremely important for our citizens to take this threat seriously and to have a plan for what to do in case this type of disaster strikes.”

The New Madrid seismic zone stretches 40 miles wide and 200 miles long and affects parts of Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas. The zone consists of a series of complex faults that cross the Mississippi River in three places and the Ohio River in two places.

The New Madrid is most famous for a series of earthquakes between 1811 and 1812 that caused more than 2,000 shocks in five months and five earthquakes with 8.0 or more in magnitude.

“An earthquake in the New Madrid seismic zone could have catastrophic effects in our state,” said MEMA Director Mike Womack. “Our challenge is to make sure our citizens understand the potential for an earthquake and to remind them how to be prepared. Three is key. People need to keep an emergency kit with three days worth of food, water, medications and other important personal items.”

The strongest recorded earthquake in Mississippi happened in 1931 with a magnitude of 4.6 centered on Tallahatchie County. The earthquake damaged buildings and toppled chimneys. Smaller quakes are felt and registered in Mississippi every year.

EARTHQUAKE SAFETY TIPS

• Learn to DROP, COVER and HOLD ON!  Practice the drill at least twice a year with your family to drop under a sturdy desk or table and hold on to one leg of the table or desk.

• Pick a safe place in every room of your home, such as under a sturdy table or desk or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you.

• Wait in your safe place until the shaking stops, then check to see if you are hurt.  Be ready for additional earthquakes called “aftershocks.”

• Talk with your insurance agent. Different areas have different requirements for earthquake protection.  Study locations of active faults, and if you are at risk, consider purchasing earthquake insurance.

• If you are in a car during an earthquake, stay in the car with your seatbelt fastened.

• If you are outside during an earthquake, stay outside.  Move away from buildings, trees, streetlights and power lines.  Crouch down and cover your head.

For information on preparing an all-hazards disaster survival kit and tips for protecting your property against earthquakes, visit MEMA online at www.msema.org and click the “Preparedness” link. Additional information is available from CUSEC at www.cusec.org, USGS at www.usgs.gov and from the Federal Emergency Management Agency at www.fema.gov.

For more information, contact MEMA External Affairs at 866-920-MEMA (6362), or visit us online at www.msema.org.
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