More than 260 registered for Feb. 20 conference in southeast Missouri

The State Emergency Management Agency will host its first-ever Missouri Earthquake Summit on Wednesday, Feb. 20 in Sikeston to discuss the risks presented by the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ), earthquake response planning and capabilities and how to strengthen community preparedness.

The New Madrid Seismic Zone, centered in southeast Missouri, is the most active seismic area in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains, with about 200 tiny earthquakes occurring each year. It includes parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee. In 1811-12, the NMSZ produced some of the strongest earthquakes ever felt in North America. While no one can predict exactly when an earthquake will occur, scientists agree that a large NMSZ earthquake is a significant risk.

“Missouri regularly experiences disasters — flooding, tornadoes, ice storms — that result in federal disaster declarations, but a major New Madrid Seismic Zone earthquake would amount to a catastrophic disaster, which would affect millions of people and take years to recover from,” State Emergency Management Agency Director Ron Walker said. “This is why advance planning and exercises are so important.”

The summit will bring together members of several state departments and local officials that would play key roles in responding to an earthquake and the recovery that would follow. In addition to SEMA, presenters will include the Missouri National Guard, Missouri Department of Transportation, Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium, Missouri Hospital Association, Southeast Missouri Health Care Coalition, Cape Girardeau Emergency Management and KFVS-TV.

Those registered to attend the conference include individuals from the following fields: public health and medical; emergency management; first responders; local, state and federal governments; schools; utilities; non-governmental organizations; and private business.