Mississippi is known for its spectacular natural disasters, primarily when it comes to tornadoes, hurricanes, and flooding.
But a threat that is overlooked by most is that of earthquakes. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency hosts “The Great Shakeout” every year for that very reason: Because one day it’s going to happen. This year it’s on Thursday, Oct. 21.
It’s not that “it’s going to happen,” just in that statement. Scientists have been predicting for a while that activity along the New Madrid Fault can and will cause a sizeable earthquake in Mississippi within the next 50 years.
In 1811-1812, Mississippi was devastated by an earthquake that registered 7.5 on the Richter scale. The Mississippi River flowed backward, and Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee was created when a void caused by the disaster filled up with water. The rumbles from that earthquake were felt up the eastern seaboard and into places as far north as New York City and Canada.
Scientists have said the risk of another earthquake on the New Madrid fault of the same size is 7 – 10 percent over the next 50 years. But the likelihood of an earthquake in the 6.0 range is closer to 40 or 50 percent.
That’s why The Great Shakeout is a good thing to practice, whether in your business, your classroom, or your home, officials said.
During the self-led drill on Oct. 21, participants will practice the three essential actions to take during an earthquake, which are to:
– DROP to the ground.
– Take COVER under a sturdy table or desk if possible, protecting your head and neck.
– HOLD ON until the shaking stops.
Individuals and organizations can register for the ‘Great ShakeOut’ here. Once registered, participants will receive more information on how to plan their drill and additional earthquake preparedness tips.
According to the Great ShakeOut website, over 12.5 million people have registered to participate in the United States, which includes over 290,000 Mississippians.
Although only a small number of earthquakes have been centered in Mississippi, the state has been affected by numerous shocks located in neighboring states particularly along the ‘New Madrid Seismic Zone,’ which is why earthquake preparedness is especially important for Mississippians.
For more earthquake preparedness information visit the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency’s website and watch MEMA’s earthquake preparedness video here.