Image: Vibe truck at work
Michael Wilkey  /  The Jonesboro Sun
A cameraman videotapes a "vibe truck" moving along an Arkansas highway on May 16 to measure sediment in the area for evidence of past earthquakes in the New Madrid seismic zone.
updated 5/22/2006 10:53:15 PM ET 2006-05-23T02:53:15

Federal and state emergency officials are encouraging Arkansas residents to prepare now for a possible earthquake.

The U.S. Geological Survey considers Arkansas among the states with a "high earthquake risk" because of activity in the New Madrid fault zone. The fault runs from Marked Tree, Ark., to near Cairo, Ill., and while it remains active, most of the quakes are too small to be felt at the surface.

Win Henderson, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency at Little Rock, said Monday that the agency wanted to issue a reminder to residents because catastrophic earthquakes are so unpredictable. "It could be tomorrow. It could be 60 years. We don't know," Henderson said.

In 1811-12, the faults produced some of the strongest temblors ever known to have struck the continental United States. Scientists say similar quakes could kill and injure thousands from St. Louis to Memphis, Tenn., and into northwest Mississippi, but they're uncertain about how much strain and movement is occurring along the fault zone.

Image: New Madrid area
Each red cross denotes an earthquake detected in the New Madrid area since 1974. Three major earthquakes took place at the New Madrid fault in the 1811-12 time frame, and scientists say it could happen again sometime in the next 50 years.
Monday, FEMA and the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management recommended that Arkansans prepare. The agencies advised residents to identify indoor and outdoor safe places to use if there is an earthquake, to have disaster supplies on hand, and to develop an emergency communications plan.

Property damage and personal injury can be minimized by following local building standards pertaining to earthquakes when remodeling or building a new home. Emergency officials made these recommendations in correcting potential hazards in the home:

  • Fasten shelves securely to the walls.
  • Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
  • Store breakable items, such as bottled foods, glass and china, in low, closed cabinets with latches. Hang heavy items such as pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches and anywhere people sit.
  • Brace overhead light fixtures.
  • Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections, which are potential fire risks.
  • Secure a water heater by strapping it to the wall studs and bolting it to the floor.
  • Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations.
  • Store weed killers, pesticides and flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches and on bottom shelves in an area outside the home's living space.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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