On the Anniversary of the New Madrid Earthquake - Here's how to prepare for the next quake

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- February is earthquake preparedness month, and today marks 208 years since Missouri has seen a major earthquake.

In 1812 a major 7.5 earthquake destroyed the town of New Madrid in the Bootheel of Missouri. Effects from the quake were felt in St. Louis, and tremors rang the bells in Philadelphia.

The seismic waves also developed a few smaller fault lines here in the Ozarks. Most of these faults are inactive, or only have small tremors.

The fault line in New Madrid on average goes off every six hundred years. While the risk is low for a major earthquake to occur, smaller tremors are felt thousands of times a year.

If another major earthquake were to shake Missouri, the effects of it would even be felt here in Springfield.

Matt Forir, the Greene County Geologist, said distance would not necessarily weaken the seismic waves. Because the earth’s crust and rock is thicker under Missouri, the energy from the epicenter would travel.

“We’re going to feel it here, and it’s not going to be diminished much from the epicenter. If we have that eight point or larger, there’s going to be damage,” Forir said.

With the population of Missouri and Arkansas having increased in the last 200 years, the effects would be more devastating.

When it comes to Springfield, Greene County Emergency Management is most prepared for a large influx of people evacuating the Bootheel.

“As far as evacuations go, you’re looking at people evacuating west.” Russell said.

Springfield will likely become a hub for recovery efforts, as it is centrally located. Greene County Emergency management has taken special training to prepare for this type of event, and for disasters similar.

While the likelihood of a major earthquake happening is slim, earthquakes are not predictable, so preparedness is key.

“What are you going to do if you’re in a house? We’ll you’re going to find an archway, a doorway to get into, you’re going to find some place that’s stable above you.” Forir said.

If you are outside, Forir recommends sitting down and just pay attention to what is above you.

More tips for Earthquake preparedness can be found on the Greene County Emergency Management site https://greenecountymo.gov/oem/cst.php
And here https://www.ready.gov/earthquakes