Earthquakes are often thought of as a threat only in the western United States. Yet three of the largest earthquakes in U.S. history occurred along the New Madrid fault in 1811-12. Each year, several small tremors from this and other fault lines in the central U.S. are felt, subtly reminding us that the threat of another devastating earthquake is quite real. Indeed, given the tremendous growth in population, infrastructure and structures in this region since the early 1800s, a modern-day earthquake has the potential to inflict considerable physical damage and mass casualties in our eight-state CUSEC region.
While each state in this region has embraced an all-hazards approach to tackle the wide array of emergency situations that arise – from floods, to tornadoes, to acts of terrorism – we recognize that the effects of a major earthquake pose unique challenges that extend beyond state boundaries. Through CUSEC, we come together to tackle these challenges, ranging from public information and education, to multi-state response and recovery planning, to mitigation efforts to research.
One of our biggest challenges is educating a public that is often unconcerned about the earthquake risks they face and personally unprepared for any type of emergency. Even in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster to hit the United States in recent times, studies show Americans remain unprepared to deal with such emergencies. Our challenge to increase awareness about the earthquake potential in our region and the need for both individuals and governmental bodies to prepare is great and will continue to remain a critical priority for CUSEC in the coming years. To this end, public awareness campaigns such as the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut are essential to developing new and creative approaches towards disaster education.
The eight CUSEC states, have undertaken an unprecedented planning, training, and exercise initiative to prepare the states and the region for the catastrophic disaster which would result from a New Madrid seismic event. This planning venture will culminate with a multi-state regional exercise in 2014, and is known as CAPSTONE-14. CAPSTONE is intended to be a regional and national model of full-cycle emergency management planning, and will allow CUSEC to press forward in our effort to prepare for, respond to, and recover from catastrophe.
On behalf of the CUSEC Board of Directors, I hope you find this website helpful in your own preparedness efforts.
Chairman, CUSEC Board of Directors