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Next disaster? Earthquake? Are we ready?

This is a reprint of my comment under Glen Reynolds’ post on No Silence today.

It’s the New Madrid Fault Zone in Memphis that Knoxville (and everyone else) should be watching. In 1811, a major earthquake caused the Mississippi River to flow backwards and created Reelfoot Lake and rang church bells in Richmond, Virginia.

“The probability for an earthquake of magnitude 6.0 or greater is significant in the near future, with a 50% chance by the year 2000 and a 90% chance by the year 2040. A quake with a magnitude equal to that of the 1811- 1812 quakes could result in great loss of life and property damage in the billions of dollars.”

With 10,000 New Orleans refugees in Memphis, it would not be without irony if Mother Nature decided now was the time.

“The next time the New Madrid Fault produces such a quake, it is estimated 60 percent of Memphis will be devastated, leaving $50 Billion in damage and thousands of dead in its wake.”

Knoxvillians should find this image of quakes between 1800 and 1983 intersesting. A Californian that I worked with once commented how lovely our brick structures were and what a shame it will be if an earthquake ever hits here implying that our fair city will be flattened.

It should be noted that good things come of bad. Reelfoot Lake is now habit to many bald eagles and a bird’s paradise.

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