It has come to our attention that the state of Missouri has yet to propose a plan on how to prepare itself for the event of an earthquake, more so of one with a magnitude of 8.0 in the Richter scale. We believe that it is important to prepare our state for a strong earthquake as this may lessen the severity of the damages that can be incurred, as well as saving more lives.
Prediction of an Earthquake
We believe that a hypothetical earthquake whose epicenter would be in the Mississippi River, in between the states Missouri and Tennessee, can gravely affect the state of Missouri along with neighboring states: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee. This is because of the New Madrid Fault System, which crosses five state lines and cuts across the Mississippi River in three places and the Ohio River in two places.
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The said fault extends 120 miles southward from the area of Charleston, Missouri, and Cairo, Illinois, through New Madrid and Caruthersville, following Interstate 55 to Blytheville and on down to Marked Tree, Arkansas (About the New Madrid Fault, 2002). The active fault system, or seismic zone, averages more than 200 measured events per year, in areas ranging from central Missouri to the far southeastern bootheel of Missouri. Although most of these earthquakes are only detectable by sensitive instruments, some earthquakes are strong enough to crack plaster in buildings and disrupt southeast Missouri once or twice every 18 months (History of Earthquakes in Missouri, 2007).
One of the dangers of these earthquakes are its effects to the soil; earthquake vibrations that pass through soil makes it lose its properties as a solid and take on those of a semi-liquid like quicksand, a process called liquefaction (How Earthquakes are Measured & Their Effects on St. Charles County, 2002). Liquefaction is expected to happen mostly in the places where the Mississippi River has moved around, depositing sandy silt and gumbo clay. In these areas, the earthquake will send the water to the surface, creating quicksand and eliminating the soil's ability to support loads (Patterson, 2006). Because there are about 11 million people live in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, this would pose a big threat to the people; houses and buildings would collapse due to a lack of stable foundation.
Although it is impossible to predict an earthquake, scientists have extrapolated from the New Madrid Seismic Zone history that the Great New Madrid Earthquake of 1811-1812 happens every 200 to 300 years. Thus, it had been predicted that it in between 2010 until 2020, another series earthquakes would occur at 8.0 or more in magnitude (About The New Madrid Fault, 2002). An 8.0 magnitude, to give you an idea, can temporarily or permanently change the flow of rivers, springs and even wells. This can pose as a big problem as the fault cuts across the Mississippi River; a temporary change in the flow of the river can greatly affect the biodiversity of different plant and animal species that are dependent on the river.
Despite the seemingly devastating outcomes, a lot of these can be prevented if the state were to prepare way ahead of time. As had been the findings in the Mid-America Alliance Policy Forum (2005), that State and local governments couldn’t depend wholly on the federal government for assistance in responding to disasters. Thus, they must develop their own response capabilities and be able to help each other.
In preparation of the predicted disaster, the governor is asked to prepare a communications strategy beforehand, as to be able to keep in touch with the press and to remain open to receive questions and give prompt answers after the calamity. The governor is also advised to create intrastate mutual agreements to support jurisdictions across the state, such as the utilization of medical professionals and emergency search and rescue teams among other professionals that may be of help; the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) should be reviewed and revised accordingly with different states (A Governor’s Guide to Homeland Security, 2007).
In the event that the earthquake indeed takes place, it is the governor’s duty to activate the state’s emergency plan and ensure that all appropriate state and local actions have been taken, before filing for a Presidential Declaration of a State of Emergency or Disaster (A Governor’s Guide to Homeland Security, 2007). If, for example, the governor had been able to cover all the bases in this situation beforehand, then perhaps the state would not have a hard time recovering from the disaster.
Scientists who have extensively studied the history of earthquakes in Missouri have predicted a possible earthquake whose epicenter would be in the Mississippi River, in between the states Missouri and Tennessee. This earthquake can gravely affect the state of Missouri, causing extensive damages, along with its neighboring states: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.
Seeing as the State of Missouri would not the only state that would be affected when the earthquake occurs, it would be most beneficial for all if the governors of all the states that are traversed by the New Madrid Fault System would be able hold conferences regularly and discuss other possible preventive measures as to how to lessen the devastation and casualties that the massive earthquake may bring. Intrastate mutual agreements among these concerned states should be examined thoroughly, as these states van only rely on each other after the calamity strikes.
The unity and success within a state is proven by how the state manages to recover from a calamity, more so an unforeseen calamity. In order for it to recover promptly, the governor has to continually improve and alter the state’s homeland security operations and structures and also create channels for possible ties with other states. It is only by doing these can a governor and his state be prepared for anything and that will come in his way.
About the New Madrid Fault. (2002). Retrieved on August 22, 2007 from http://www.scchealth.org/docs/ems/docs/prepare/newMadrid.html.
A Government’s Guide to Homeland Security. (2007). Retrieved on August 23, 2007 from http://www.nga.org
History of Earthquakes in Missouri. (2007). Retrieved on August 23, 2007 from http://www.dnr.mo.gov/geology/geosrv/geores/HistoryMOeqs.htm.
How Earthquakes are Measured ; Their Effects On St. Charles County. (2002). Retrieved on August 22, 2007 from http://www.scchealth.org/docs/ems/docs/prepare/earthq_measure.html.
Mid-America Alliance Policy Forum. (2005). Retrieved on August 22, 2007 from http://www.nga.org/portal/site/nga/menuitem.9123e83a1f6786440ddcbeeb501010a0/?vgnextoid=9d734bbea0448010VgnVCM1000001a01010aRCRD;vgnextchannel=4b18f074f0d9ff00VgnVCM1000001a01010aRCRD.
Patterson, G. (2006). Expert Warns of Earthquake in New Madrid Zone. Retrieved on August 22, 2007 from http://www.greatdreams.com/madrid.htm.
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