SEMA director in Heartland for Earthquake Awareness Month - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

SEMA director in Heartland for Earthquake Awareness Month

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - It remains one if the most active fault lines in the world: The New Madrid Fault which spans over 100 miles and runs through five states.

"If a major earthquake happened it would rock areas far from the epicenter because of the terrain here in the Midwest," said Steve Besemer, Earthquake Program Manager for SEMA.

Besemer is in the Heartland this week working with the Red Cross to send a message to be prepared. He's speaking to different groups in Cape Girardeau, Perryville, and Sikeston.

"There's a 7-10 percent chance of a major earthquake in the next 50 years and another 25 percent chance of a somewhat minor one that could still cause quite a bit of damage," said Besemer of the most recent data. "We all need to be ready. The New Madrid fault line is very much alive and scientists are putting together the information all the time. We often have an earthquake even of the slightest magnitude nearly every day. It's really not a question of if but when."

February is Earthquake Awareness Month, marking the 202nd anniversary of the major quake centered in New Madrid in 1812.

"Will we ever be able to predict them? It's hard to say. But around the world scientists are constantly studying major fault lines including the New Madrid zone."


Besemer explained new data compared to all recorded history does not necessarily suggest earthquakes worldwide are getting stronger or more frequent, but thanks to the speed information and news travels, we do hear about them more.

"We are more aware and need to to be because they aren't going away, at least the data tells us they don't seem to be. Fault lines are moving and shifting frequently," he said.

SEMA and the Red Cross of Southeast Missouri offer these tips to protect your family, more background on earthquake history and general information:
  • Put together an emergency kit, including a flash-light, first aid kit, radio, drinking water and blankets. · Develop a family communication plan. Identify a relative living at least 100 miles away; everyone can call to "check in" to tell family you're safe.
  • Bolt bookcases to wall studs, install strong latches on cupboards and strap the water heater to wall studs—if it tips over it could start a fire or gas leak, and you could lose a valuable source of water.
  • Know how to turn off your gas and water mains.
  • Understand that earthquake coverage is not included in most homeowner insurance policies. It must be purchased as separate coverage, called an "endorsement." This type of insurance requires that the earthquake is the direct cause of damage to the property. The Missouri Department of Insurance has more: http://insurance.mo.gov/consumers/home/EQTable.php
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