ST. LOUIS – Following Wednesday night’s 4.0 earthquake in southeast Missouri, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Department of the Interior are reminding those of us in the central states that we are living in “earthquake country.”
The earthquake occurred just after 8:50 p.m., with an epicenter of Williamsville in Wayne County, located approximately 21 miles northwest of Poplar Bluff.
The quake was within what is called the New Madrid Seismic Zone. This zone generated a massive family of quakes between 1811 and 1812 that changed the course of the Mississippi River. Experts believe the New Madrid Zone has been responsible for magnitude 7 to 8 intensity earthquakes about every 500 years over the past 1,200 years.
In 2011, the USGS published a handbook to inform residents of the dangers of living in an earthquake zone, and seven safety tips to prepare for and survive the next big earthquake. That handbook can be found below this story.
Just last month, the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) held a “ShakeOut” drill to be prepared for potential earthquakes along the New Madrid faultline.
On Thursday, SEMA Director Jim Remillard said no significant damage has been reported, but MoDOT engineers will be conducting bridge inspections later in the day out of caution.
Meanwhile, earthquake insurance coverage has cratered in the New Madrid area. As of 2020, only 12.7% of homes are covered, compared to 60% of homes in 2000. Earthquake insurance costs have jumped 760% over the last 21 years as well.
A 2019 report from the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration said insured homes in the region could face up to $120 billion in damages, with uninsured homes looking at $100 billion in damages.