By Michelle Rupp
Updated: Sep 30, 2010 7:09 PM CDT
Little Rock-A drill Wednesday to help government agencies prepare for the possibility of a major earthquake in Arkansas. The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and FEMA both involved in that drill. Testing reaction to a 7.7 magnitude earthquake. The hypothetical epicenter was Blytheville. Experts say a quake that big would be felt as far away as Little Rock.
Tony Russell from FEMA says they were going over the state's preparedness plan with a fine tooth comb looking at gaps or ways to improve. "We're able to find things that need to be improved upon let's talk together, lets figure out ways to do it better. In fact if we think outside the box and if possible build a new box. Just to make sure we're there to support the citizens of Arkansas."
Sheila Annable, with ADEM, says if a 7.7 quake struck, 19 counties would suffer significant damage. From collapsed bridges to no phone service to barge traffic along the Arkansas River halted. "The soil conditions in eastern Arkansas are favorable for liquefaction, which is where the soil and sediment becomes liquefied and it will cause failure of structures."
Annable says it's not a matter of if an earthquake will happen, but when. The last major quakes along the New Madrid line were in 1811 and 1812. Some experts say a shaking is long over due. "There are very small earthquakes happening right now all along the fault in the category of 1, 2, 3. Sometimes we feel them but nothing destructive has happened in a long time."
She adds, the bicentennial of the 1811 New Madrid quake is next year. Researchers estimate more than 80 thousand would be injured and about 2.6 million homes destroyed if a 7.7 earthquake hit.