County Participates In New Madrid Quake Exercise


About every 200 years, dating back to 980 A.D., it happens — a powerful earthquake strikes along the New Madrid fault. The last major quakes in that region, the bootheel of southeast Missouri, happened in 1811 and 1812. A decade before Missouri became a state... When Nashville's population was only a few hundred and St. Louis' was between 1,200 and 1,400 people...

Quakes of a similar magnitude striking today — slightly more than 200 years later — could cause devastation to these major population centers and send an estimated 300,000 evacuees west to Jackson County seeking shelter.

Jackson County Emergency Preparedness participated in a multi-state disaster drill Wednesday simulating the response to a modern New Madrid quake. All told, eight states took part in the "Show-Me Mass Care Exercise" — Missouri, Kansas Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas  — to help people prepare for a potential quake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone

"Jackson County is proud to be participating in this important exercise," said Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr.  "We know that in a real emergency, we would be relied upon for our resources and expertise.”

White visited one of the county’s “mass care shelter” locations — Crown Pointe Church in Lee’s Summit — to observe the training and greet volunteers.

More than 500 volunteers from the Jackson County area participated in the event, which included more than 50 different local, county, state and federal agencies, according to Mike Curry, Director of Emergency Preparedness for Jackson County.

Curry explained that an earthquake in the center part of the state of Missouri could be much more violent and potentially release more energy than one of the same magnitude in California.

In additional to a total of two mass care shelters, Jackson County Emergency Preparedness staged several other elements: an evacuee reception center, two mass care shelters, two pet shelters, a distribution site, mass feeding locations and a coordination center. 

Missouri Map

First-Hand Account

Some of the quakes that rocked the New Madrid region in 1811 and 1812 were so intense they caused church bells in Boston  — 1200 miles away  — to ring. 

This is an excerpt from a journal George Heinrich Crist kept as he and his family endured the 1811-12 New Madrid earthquakes. They lived near present-day Louisville, Kentucky, more than 250 miles away from epicenter in New Madrid, Missouri. (Excerpt republished as written by Crist.)

January 23, 1812

"What are we gonna do? You cannot fight it cause you do not know how. It is not something that you can see. In a storm you can see the sky and it shows dark clouds and you know that you might get strong winds but this you can not see anything but a house that just lays in a pile on the ground - not scattered around and trees that just falls over with the roots still on it. The earth quake or what ever it is come again today. It was as bad or worse than the one in December. We lost our Amandy Jane in this one - a log fell on her. We will bury her upon the hill under a clump of trees where Besys Ma and Pa is buried. A lot of people thinks that the devil has come here. Some thinks that this is the beginning of the world coming to a end."