State recognizes bicentennial anniversary of massive New Madrid earthquake

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By David Lilly
Owen County Emergency Services
Beginning in February, Kentucky and states located in the New Madrid Seismic Zone are recognizing the bicentennial anniversary of the one of the largest known earthquakes in United States history. The first quake struck Dec. 16, 1811, near present day Memphis, Tenn., with subsequent quakes and aftershocks continuing through Feb. 7, 1812, the last occurring in New Madrid, Missouri. Historians report the Mississippi River was said to have run backward; Reel Foot Lake was formed; and the shaking was so violent it was felt as far away as South Carolina and Pennsylvania, causing church bells to ring
A similar earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone today would impact not only Kentucky, but several surrounding states and would devastate Memphis and St. Louis, causing major infrastructure damage and loss of life throughout this region.   
Rick Morgan of Owen County Emergency Management reminds residents that, unlike the weather, which can be forecast and you can be warned in advance, scientists cannot predict an earthquake.
The possibility of a major earthquake affecting Kentucky cannot be taken for granted. We should not prepare on the notion of if we have an earthquake, but rather when we have one. The bottom line is we live in a very active seismic zone, and as a potential victim of an earthquake, you need to prepare yourself, your home and workplace as much as possible.  February is Earthquake Preparedness Month in Kentucky. Individuals and their families can take the following steps to prepare for earthquakes: get an emergency supply kit; make a family communications plan; stay informed of the risks in your community; check for hazards in the home; identify safe places indoors and outdoors; and educate yourself and family members.   
For more information on preparing for an earthquake and other emergencies, please visit www.kyem.ky.gov/programs/earthquake/ and www.Ready.gov.