Earthquake Changed Course of Mississippi River

February is Earthquake Awareness Month in Missouri

FEBRUARY 3, 2016, St. Louis, Missouri… One of the world’s most powerful earthquakes changed the course of the Mississippi River in Missouri and created Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee while shaking parts of Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois and Ohio. Tremors rattled Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.

“That disaster happened along the New Madrid Seismic Zone in southeast Missouri in late 1811 and early 1812 when three mammoth quakes occurred over several days,” said Brian Houser of Quake Kare in St. Louis.

“Faults that opened in the earth dammed the Mississippi River, redirecting its channel and creating waterfalls that tossed flatboats and killed their crews,” he said. “Other faults and aftershocks dammed a creek in northwest Tennessee that created Reelfoot Lake.”

“Every February, Missouri observes Earthquake Awareness Month to educate people about the very real threat of another earthquake disaster in the state. Authorities in Missouri are conducting events this month to advise the public, schools and first responders about the best ways to prepare for another catastrophic quake,” said Houser, whose company Quake Kare is a leading provider of disaster survival kits for homes, schools and businesses in the U.S.

Quake Kare is owned by the not-for-profit Lighthouse for the Blind-Saint Louis. All Quake Kare revenue directly supports Lighthouse programs for people who are blind and visually impaired.

The New Madrid Seismic Zone, centered about 160 miles south of St. Louis, is the nation’s most active seismic zone east of the Rocky Mountains. “Earthquakes occurring in the region can threaten parts of  IllinoisIndianaMissouriArkansasKentuckyTennessee and Mississippi,” Houser said.

According to the U.S. Geological Service, more than 200 small earthquakes occur in the region each year, most too small to be felt. But in October, 2015, a 3.4 magnitude earthquake struck near Poplar Bluff, Missouri, followed by a 3.2 magnitude aftershock.
Rebecca Pacheco, a local resident, said, "The whole house shook. The glasses in the cabinet rattled. My dog started barking and we heard a boom that was real, real loud." Other local residents reported that they heard what sounded like a sonic boom as their homes rattled and pictures crashed down from walls.

Noah Cross, a local butcher, was in his shop when "I realized the whole place was shaking. I saw the freezer door shaking. I never felt anything like that before," he said.

Robbie Myers, director of the Butler County Emergency Management Agency in the area, said, "This earthquake is a reminder one can happen at any time. That is why we practice earthquake drills.

“It’s important for Missourians to prepare now and Earthquake Awareness Month is an ideal time to learn about earthquake hazards and the importance of emergency preparedness,” Myers said.

New reports compiled in 2014 by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission revealed that the New Madrid Seismic Zone shows a high risk producing larger, more powerful earthquakes than previously thought due to more data and updated earthquake models.

Thousands of individuals, families, schools and businesses rely on Quake Kare disaster preparedness products. Its survival kits are packed with non-perishable food, water, first aid kits, hand-crank power radios, light sticks, candles, waterproof matches, ponchos, multi-purpose knives, portable toilets, blankets, tissue packs and emergency tents, among other items.

“The most valuable lesson we can learn during Earthquake Awareness Month is that knowledge and preparation are key,” said Brittney Bettonville of Quake Kare.  “If an earthquake occurs, drop to the ground, take cover under a sturdy table or desk and protect your head and neck, and hold on until the shaking stops.

“Expect aftershocks. These can be strong enough to do more damage and can occur hours or days after the original quake.” After an earthquake hits:

  • Wear sturdy shoes to protect feet from broken glass.
  • Check for injuries and apply first aid.
  • Check gas, water, electrical lines and appliances for damage. If you smell gas, shut off the main valve. Don’t turn on gas or electricity until a power company gives the OK. Don’t light matches, use any open flames, or turn on electrical appliances until you are certain that there are no gas leaks.
  • Before using the toilet, check to see that sewage lines are intact. Plug bathtub, sink, laundry area and basement drains to prevent sewage backup.
  • Look for building damage and safety hazards such as cracks around chimneys or foundations.
  • Listen to a solar or battery powered radio for public safety instructions.

Lighthouse for the Blind-Saint Louis and Quake Kare currently employ 47 people who are legally blind in two assembly and packaging plants in St. Louis County to assemble, pack and ship Quake Kare survival kits and others products to customers nationwide.

For information about Lighthouse for the Blind-Saint Louis services and programs, call 800.542.3697 or 314.423.4333. For product information, contact Brittney Bettonville at 800.542.3697 or 314.423.4333, or see the websites http://www.quakekare.com or www.lhbindustries.com


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