200-year anniversary of earthquakes approaching. Are we ready for another?

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Heartland is nearing the 200-year anniversary of the legendary 1811-1812 earthquakes, but much has changed since then--the area is much more populated, and better safety plans are in place.

Even so, the recent earthquakes in Oklahoma and central Arkansas have many of us thinking about our safety plans.  What kind of damage would a 5.6-magnitude earthquake do now?

Local emergency management officials have planned for decades to prepare for a natural disaster in the future.

Right now,the chances of a New Madrid earthquake are pretty low.

Only 25% in the next 29 years.

However, Larry Kelley, with the Dunklin County Office of Emergency Management, is taking no chances when it comes to safety.

"It's very difficult to assess what the probability would be, but definitely Dunklin County, New Madrid County, Pemiscot County, we are in what the state has designated as the areas affected."

Kelley just finished a mock natural disaster scenario with other local co-coordinators, and he considers it a success.

"We assessed what the damages in the county might be. We assessed our resources that we have locally for assisting people. And then determine what we might need from the state."

If Region 8 saw an earthquake similar to the 5.6 M in Oklahoma, Larry believes we'd have similar results."Our soil is sandier, we'd get more shifting. We'd probably see some buildings affected and some buildings destroyed. Some of our bridges would be damaged."

But Larry says that numerous shelters and backup generators are ready to go, just in case such a rare event would strike Region 8.

"They can take some comfort that we believe that we're pretty well prepared. Certainly not to prevent, but to respond."

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