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May 19, 2011 / Dave Gorham

FEMA Responds to Massive "Quake" in Central U.S.

If the title of this article didn’t quite grab your attention, then this will: “Approximately 9,000 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen on State Active Duty are supporting the simulated earthquake relief operations, including mock route clearing, search and rescue, and security operations across Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee.”

Officials meet in Little Rock Tuesday as part of NLE2011. Photo: FEMA

But for two words (“simulated” and “mock”), you know this is not your typical situation. Really, even considering those two words, this is not your typical situation. No, this drill is a big deal and it involves local, state and federal officials and agencies, plus emergency responders for what is a serious practice response to a multi-state catastrophe: a major earthquake in the central United States.

Officials have scheduled this exercise to run for a week. Considering the real emergencies already underway (flooding, tornado damage) this is a true test of capacity and the ability to multi-task. Read more of the National Level Exercise 2011 (NLE2011) here. And stay on top of the ongoing situation by reading the daily posts on the FEMA blog (Earthquakes) here.

New Madrid Seismic Zone. Image: Wikipedia

ImpactWeather has written about earthquakes in this area of the country before (Fracking Earthquakes, Arkansas Magma, and Did it Occur?). Regular readers will know this week’s exercise location is no coincidence: The New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) lies precisely where NLE2011 is taking place. What’s more, this is the 200th anniversary of the 1811 series of quakes centered exactly through this region.

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