PDA

View Full Version : in Memphis, StL, Evansville, Paducah...?



lorna_w
07-20-2012, 08:20 PM
I'm researching the New Madrid-Wabash seismic zone for my upcoming novel and am curious about some things:

1) are you aware you're in earthquake country? Would you be shocked if an earthquake hit this afternoon?

2) do you have an earthquake kit? (what's in it?) A family emergency plan?

3) do you live or work or go to church or school in a brick building?

Thanks for sharing. I've already emailed my relatives back there (it's where I grew up) and gotten some responses (they know/have no plan at all except for the "crazy" uncle who may not be crazy in this case) but am interested in hearing more.

Gretad08
07-20-2012, 09:23 PM
1) I'm aware of the fault in my area. I'm 30, and we learned about it every year of school in science class. That being said, I'd be SHOCKED if we had an earthquake. We just don't have them, or when we do, hardly anyone even notices. We had one sometime in the last 12 months that woke me up, but it was barely detectable to most people who were sleeping. My husband was awake making coffee, and he didn't notice. It was a big deal the next day though; all over the news.

2) I don't have an earthquake kit. Horrible! Now I think I need to get one. We do have a family emergency plan, and we've tried to discuss it with our kids, but they're only 2 and 4.Now that I think about it, I don't think our emergency plan is the greatest.

3) My home is partially brick (unfortunately. I wish it was full brick). My church is a solid block/stone structure, my office is a mixture of brick, but mainly glass, all the schools in my district are block, brick, or stone.

I hope this helps. Definitely PM or post any further questions in this thread, and I'll try to answer.

Gretad08
07-20-2012, 09:33 PM
Now you've piqued my curiosity, so I googled the New Madrid fault. The Wiki page ( I know, not the greatest source), said that scientists estimate that if it ever produces a major earthquake, the damage would be catastrophic, possibly the worst casualty rate of any US natural disaster in history. They estimate it would cause 4000 casualties in Memphis alone.

The zone is so huge, it would affect people in 5 different states if the big one ever hit.

So now, I'm gonna go wrap my kids in bubble wrap and build a tent in a large open field, ya know, just in case the big one hits :)

Snick
07-20-2012, 09:42 PM
That's an excellent base to work from. I looked into the New Madrid quake a few years ago, and I was amazed at the strength and the duration. I can't imagine the earth moving like waves on the ocean for months. And that was in New Madrid; no one was living at Memphis, which was the epicenter.

Are you planning to have it open into a new ocean?

lorna_w
07-20-2012, 09:59 PM
Thanks,G! Not much you can say to a 2-year old, but then, they aren't ever far from you, so that's good. But you could do "duck, cover, hold" drills--get under the dining room table, tuck your head, grab a table leg. It'd be hard to get across, "but this is different than our tornado drill."

The thing is, you live in Japan or SF or LA, you get quakes all the time, and people are mentally prepared there, have the kits, etc. Construction gets "hardened" (this means everything iffy has already fallen down and what's left is pretty solid). There are international zoning recommendations for seismic zones which Tenn. has adopted, but Mo. and Ill. have not, which is...well, I'd call it "criminally irresponsible," but I'm given to Big Statements. There have been higher numbers of "shake out" drills there--fire, police, hospitals, and schools drill for when it happens, which is good. You could look at this list (http://www.usgs.gov/faq/index.php?action=show&cat=126) of USGS articles.

If you want an idea of what could happen there with a moderate quake, go look at videos of the 6.3 in Christchurch...and they were better prepared, zoned, and retrofitted than St.L is. Those brick buildings are gorgeous...but not where you want to be in a quake.

There's also a pdf out there of which of your bridges will fall in a 7.0 quake...and the short version is, almost all of them (or their approaches will, rendering them useless). All train bridges, gone. Runways aren't build right for quakes there. Rails will get bent. Interstate overpasses, gone. The rivers will be clogged (or change course drastically). Getting food and water and doctors into the area is going to be a challenge.

On the other hand, St.L. is far enough from the center that you guys won't get it the worst. Paduch, Evansville, Memphis, Cape Girardeau: lots of places will get it much worse. And if your house is close to bedrock (as opposed to on tens of meters of sand), you should be fine.

Based on what I'm hearing back from relatives, they really aren't prepared either, so you aren't alone in that.

lorna_w
07-20-2012, 09:59 PM
No, snick, no dramatic changes. Just a quake (or two)--which is bad enough!

espresso5
07-20-2012, 10:23 PM
1. Yes. A light quake, probably not. It happened once when I was a kid and it wasn't much of a big deal. A major quake like the 1811 (or '12?) quake, yes, but perhaps not surprised.
2. No kit, no plan. I currently don't live in the area, but we never had one growing up and my family still doesn't have one. I go back a couple of times a year and it's no where on anyone's radar.
3. Our church was/is brick (I no longer attend, but it's still brick). My elementary school, middle school, and high school were all brick.

Gretad08
07-20-2012, 10:24 PM
A lot of public buildings in this area are block. Not sure if that makes a difference with safety or not. What type of construction have you found in your research to be the best fit for a zone like this?

lorna_w
07-20-2012, 10:33 PM
A lot of public buildings in this area are block. Not sure if that makes a difference with safety or not. What type of construction have you found in your research to be the best fit for a zone like this?

Best: concrete reinforced with rebar, lots of rebar, and not very tall However, it's hard to make that look pretty.

I worked in a 4-story brick building in San Fran and was there in 1989. They'd spent a few million (they had it, no strain there) on retrofitting and it came through like a champ. But unreinforced brick and block, not good at all. Just google image it--christchurch 2011 quake, for instance.

backslashbaby
07-22-2012, 03:41 PM
I lived near Memphis during middle school :) I did a report on this and tried to warn folks it was coming! Really :D Kind of terrified me! Everything at my school was brick or glass. The gym wall got totally ruined in a tornado, but I never did get anyone to pay attention to the fault there ;)

This was decades ago. Everyone knew that Reelfoot Lake was supposed to indicate something, but that's about as far as the general knowledge went in my experience back then.

lorna_w
07-22-2012, 04:06 PM
Thanks, BSB--yeah, you look paranoid right up until the day it happens, then you look like a genius or seer. And it will happen, probably sometime this century. One does tend to notice a brand new lake popping up overnight--not surprised the awe over that has remained to some degree until your childhood.

I love the 1811-12 quakes for their wacky effects there--sand blows, new lakes, the smells, the reported noises, that it did damage all the way to Montreal. Scary and cool all at once.

writingismypassion
07-25-2012, 08:54 PM
I'm running a few days behind but would like to add that I'm surprised more people don't seem to be concerned. The earthquake in 2008 was only a 5.2 (I think) so it didn't do any extensive damage, but it sure got the attention of a lot of people. My husband and I were woken up by it, and I felt one of the aftershocks while at work in Terre Haute, IN. Neither my husband or I would be shocked if there was a massive earthquake. We have earthquake coverage on our house which has wood siding. Our church is brick. We have no emergency kit or plan, though. Not sure any of that helps you, but there it is.

Orianna2000
07-26-2012, 08:29 PM
I live near Memphis. I grew up in California, so I'm no stranger to earthquakes. Would not be surprised by one here, in fact, for years I've been urging my family to be prepared. They recently did a "seismic retrofitting" of the main bridge across the Mississippi. I really hope they'll do the smaller bridges, too. Like the one my husband has to cross to get to our house when he comes home from work.

We don't really have an emergency "plan" but we do keep emergency kits on hand, not specifically "earthquake" kits, but supplies for any disaster: a collection of food and water, first aid kit, a lantern, flashlights and batteries, spare clothing, blankets, pocket knife, toilet paper, water purifying tablets, a camp stove and fuel, rope, wrench for turning off the gas, etc. (Best book ever for emergency preparation: It's Time to Plan, Not Panic (http://www.amazon.com/Its-Time-Plan-Not-Panic/dp/0882908103/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343318940&sr=8-1&keywords=time+to+plan+not+panic). Tells you what you should have on hand, what it's like to spend the night in an emergency shelter, etc.)

Snick
07-26-2012, 09:53 PM
If the next big one there is like the 1812-13 event, then retrofitting the bridges won't be much help, but having supplies certainly will be.

Orianna2000
07-26-2012, 10:05 PM
True. I need to gather more supplies, I suppose. What we have on hand will last only a few days, perhaps a week with strict rationing. I try to buy a gallon of bottled water every time I visit the dollar store, but I ought to set aside more canned goods, as well. That is, assuming our house isn't utterly destroyed, along with all our stockpiled goods. . . . Then we're really up a creek.

Snick
07-26-2012, 11:29 PM
True. I need to gather more supplies, I suppose. What we have on hand will last only a few days, perhaps a week with strict rationing. I try to buy a gallon of bottled water every time I visit the dollar store, but I ought to set aside more canned goods, as well. That is, assuming our house isn't utterly destroyed, along with all our stockpiled goods. . . . Then we're really up a creek.
I think that gallons of water would just waste space. Getting purification supplies would be more effective.

Buildings are generally stronger now than they were in teh early 1800's, but there were no buildings left standing around New Madrid, and that wasn't even the epicenter. I'm glad I don't live in that area, or I would plan to be camping out for several weeks. All we have to go by are accounts of the quake back then, and I don't think that any of the infrastructure would survive that event. Roads, bridges, buildings, utilities, everything would be non-functional or destroyed.

When I get a chance, I'll see what people project for the damage zone now. Just imagine the energy released that was adequate to ring churchbells as far awat as Boston, Massachusetts. Buildings were damaged for a couple hundred miles around.

Mrs. de Winter
07-27-2012, 05:47 PM
I'm researching the New Madrid-Wabash seismic zone for my upcoming novel and am curious about some things:

1) are you aware you're in earthquake country? Would you be shocked if an earthquake hit this afternoon?

2) do you have an earthquake kit? (what's in it?) A family emergency plan?

3) do you live or work or go to church or school in a brick building?

Thanks for sharing. I've already emailed my relatives back there (it's where I grew up) and gotten some responses (they know/have no plan at all except for the "crazy" uncle who may not be crazy in this case) but am interested in hearing more.

1. I lived in STL for 6 years. We were aware that we lived in an earthquake prone area. We felt the occasional small quake. I remember waking up one night because my bed was shaking. In my half asleep state, I got angry at my husband because I thought he was shaking the bed and I was about to yell at him--then I realized what was really happening. But honestly, I was much more concerned with tornadoes. A major quake seemed like a remote possibility compared to that. My husband and I used to joke that STL was built in the worst place in the world because tornadoes, earthquakes and flooding were all an issue.

2. No earthquake kit. Our only emergency plan was tornado-related--grab the cat (and later, baby) and run to the basement!

3. Yes we lived in brick buildings. STL has whole neighborhoods that are nothing but Victorian brick houses.

lorna_w
07-28-2012, 05:51 PM
Thanks for the answers and for being honest if you aren't prepped with the kit/plan yet. From here and my relatives, I'm getting, yes, awareness but no, not much prep is the standard.

The usgs also has a good how to prepare brochure here (http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/119/), specific to the NMSZ/WVSZ of the central u.s.. It'll be awful when it happens, though as I research more I'm getting less worried about a big one being soon--probably not for 2-400 years. On the other hand, that 6.3 in Christchurch shows what a moderate quake can do, and it's not pretty. You guys are well overdue for one of those.

My sister who worked in schools told me that in 1990 that wacky man who predicted a New Madrid quake on a specific date did at least get all the schools into preparing that year, and they made up emergency kits...which then everyone promptly forgot about until ten years later when bad food started stinking or drew a colony of insects. I found this more amusing than I probably should have.

Snick, if you want to read more about effects and don't want to wade through the crazed conspiracy theory sites (what do those people have against FEMA?), start here (https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/handle/2142/14810) and link to all those pdfs. A bridge damage report pdf, which refers to a 7.7 quake, is here (http://showme.net/%7Efkeller/quake/lib/Riverbridgesdamage.pdf). For people in the StL area, some geology here (http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2009/1198/pdf/OF09-1198.pdf) explains that if you're up on rock/a bluff, you're in good shape. River bottoms, not so much--more shaking plus liquefaction.

Orianna, it's interesting to me that, once a person has lived in coastal California (or probably Japan), s/he likely does the emergency kit anyway. People laughed at me in Oregon when I bolted all bookcases, china cabinet, etc. to the wall, but you pick all that crap up once (as I did in SF in 1989), and you learn. Now there's also this stuff called earthquake gel, less than ten bucks for a good amount, and you can stick down all the ceramic and glass geegaws to their shelves, too.

Thanks