Earthquake That Wrecked Tennessee in 1811 Will Happen Again, Expert Says

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Tennessee hasn’t had a series of catastrophic earthquakes in more than 200 years, but experts say if such a thing happened before then it will most certainly happen again.

Officials with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency say they’ve spent decades planning for it and say it’s best for other Tennesseans to do the same.

“At that time, the 1811 and 1812 earthquakes formed Reelfoot Lake. The shaking rang church bells in Boston,” said TEMA spokesman Dean Flener.

“In 1811 and 1812 we didn’t have as many people living there as we do now — especially in Memphis. This will affect the entire central part of the United States, if not the entire country if we have a 7.0 magnitude earthquake along the New Madrid Fault line.”

TEMA officials train for such a quake and have emergency plans to mobilize resources and list which federal government or state resources they have at their disposal, Flener told The Tennessee Star.

They also have a plan to check roads, bridges, and interstates, Flener said.

If the big one hits then Tennessee residents, Flener went on to say, need to plan for getting cut off from the rest of the world. That means having five to 10 days’ worth of food and water, backup generators for cell phones, cash on hand, and an emergency supply of medicine, among other things.

“We do encourage homeowners to go in and secure bookcases and tall heavy objects to the walls in their homes. A lot of times it’s not the earthquakes that causes injuries and death it’s the stuff that falls off the walls,” Flener said.

“We tell people the Drop Cover Hold On Technique is the best way to protect yourself during an earthquake. Drop down, get under something heavy and sturdy and hold on until the shaking stops. Don’t run outside because you can be hit by falling glass, especially if you live in a city. If you run out and you feel the shaking in downtown Memphis you’ll run out in the middle of Poplar downtown and could be hit with falling debris.”

As reported, most Volunteer State residents don’t have earthquake insurance, according to an official with the state’s Department of Commerce and Insurance.

That matters because Tennessee lies along two fault lines.

A minor earthquake centered in East Tennessee recently reverberated into four surrounding states.

Media outlets have already predicted a massive earthquake will strike this area of the country at some point.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Earthquake” by Katorisi. CC BY-SA 3.0.

 

 

 

 

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10 Thoughts to “Earthquake That Wrecked Tennessee in 1811 Will Happen Again, Expert Says”

  1. 1Sg Ric Martin

    I agree
    People have become stupid with no math skills.

  2. E. Howell

    There was a small earthquake up the East side of the Smokies in 1987. It broke my patio in half and left a large crack across the living room ceiling. I live in Graham County, NC. We are surrounded by big dams and big lakes: Fontana, Santeetlah, Cheoah, Chilhowee. How much trouble would these dams be in, and where would the water go?

  3. […] The Tennessee Star reported last year, a large-magnitude earthquake in the central part of the United States would jolt Tennessee and do […]

  4. […] As The Star reported, a series of high-magnitude quakes that originated in the central part of the United States wrecked Memphis in 1811 and 1812. Those quakes started along the New Madrid Fault line in Missouri. Their reverberations rattled church bells as far away as Boston, Mass. […]

  5. […] As The Star reported, a series of high-magnitude quakes that originated in the central part of the United States wrecked Memphis in 1811 and 1812. Those quakes started along the New Madrid Fault line in Missouri. Their reverberations rattled church bells as far away as Boston, Mass. […]

  6. […] As The Star reported, a series of high-magnitude quakes that originated in the central part of the United States wrecked Memphis in 1811 and 1812. Those quakes started along the New Madrid Fault line in Missouri. Their reverberations rattled church bells as far away as Boston, Mass. […]

  7. Sheilah DICKERSON

    I would love to read more of this I live in Cleveland Tn so what county’s the main fault line runs.
    Thank you Sheilah

  8. OldParatrooper

    There are seven Tennessee routes into the New Madrid Quake Zone, and they cross the Tennessee River West of Nashville over six bridges. Of course the closer you get to the Mississippi, the more swampy the ground gets and the more small bridges you find.

    In the event of a New Madrid quake, those seven routes and six bridges become critical evacuation and relief routes. Inspection and repair of bridges on those seven routes will determine whether traffic can cross both ways, one way or not at all.

    The Tennessee National Guard has a 194th Engineer Brigade, headquartered in Jackson, that would be called up in the event of a quake. Also a Regimental Engineer Squadron with the 278th Cav.

    1. Bubba

      No need to worry about having cash on hand. if electricity goes out they wont know how to do business without being able to use their electronic cash registers….
      Just look at the fast food market today where they rely on pictures of the food ordered in order for the employee to be able to ring up somebodys purchase..
      You think somebody is going to add something up by hand, then calculate taxes, then try to figure out the correct change??

    2. 1Sg Ric Martin

      I’m in the Tennessee Guard there you can be sure we would be out in force.

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