New Madrid Anniversary Highlights Earthquake Risk

As you’ll see from the I.I.I. website today marks the 200th anniversary of the first of the New Madrid earthquakes.

This series of three earthquakes, the first of which occurred on December 16, 1811, with major temblors following in January and February of 1812, remain among the most powerful quakes in U.S. history (three of the earthquakes were above a magnitude 7, and there were up to 200 aftershocks of between magnitude 4 and 7).

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a similar risk exists today in the New Madrid seismic zone, threatening eight states: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.

That puts large cities such as Memphis, St. Louis and Nashville well within range of a large-scale New Madrid earthquake.

Recent projections by the USGS put the likelihood of a magnitude 6 or higher earthquake at about 25-50 percent over the next few decades, whereas a magnitude 7 or higher has a 10 percent chance of occurring.

As noted by the I.I.I. it’s important to remember that earthquakes are not covered under standard homeowners or business insurance policies. However, coverage is available in the form of an endorsement to a home or business insurance policy.

A wealth of additional information  is available at  the New Madrid Bicentennial website, but for residents sitting at home wondering how they can protect their home and property in the event of an earthquake, the Insurance Institute for Business  & Home Safety (IBHS) has some handy risk reduction tips.

For example, one of the most common sources of damage and injury during earthquakes in the U.S. are falling objects.

The IBHS guide “Reduce Six Common Earthquake Risks for Under $70† identifies affordable ways to secure five items commonly found in homes so that they are not shaken loose, including water heaters, wall-mounted flat panel TVs, and bookcases. Worth a read!

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