SPRINGFIELD – More than 50 local officials from throughout southern Illinois are in Carterville Tuesday to learn more about how a major earthquake would impact the region and what their communities can do to prepare. The officials, representing 19 southern Illinois counties and several cities, are participating in the Illinois Earthquake Summit at John A. Logan College hosted by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA).
“Through this summit, we hope to foster strong relationships with elected officials, the private sector and the response community in southern Illinois, which will enable us to work together on earthquake preparedness,” said IEMA Director Andrew Velasquez III. “While we hope a major earthquake never occurs, we simply cannot afford to be complacent.”
According to FEMA’s New Madrid Catastrophic Planning Initiative Phase 2 Report, a 7.7 magnitude earthquake along the New Madrid Seismic Zone could cause $300 billion in direct economic losses within an eight-state impacted area, while indirect economic losses could total twice that amount. In addition, as many as 3,500 fatalities could occur throughout the affected region, with 7.2 million people displaced and two million people seeking temporary shelter.
Velasquez said the goal of the summit is to provide local officials with information that will help their communities prepare for the earthquake hazard. Speakers at the conference include Bob Bauer, geologist with the Illinois State Geological Survey, who will explain the earthquake risk in southern Illinois related to the New Madrid and Wabash Valley Seismic Zones.
In addition, Jim Wilkinson, Executive Director of the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium in Memphis, will discuss plans for a multi-state earthquake exercise planned for 2011 that will involve local, state and federal participants.
Other speakers will address an overview of Illinois’ earthquake program, mass care and sheltering issues, the state’s plan for ensuring the safety of the transportation infrastructure following an earthquake, and the statewide communications interoperability plan.