Category: Earthquake

From time to time on Weather Wednesday we will step away from purely meteorological topics to address preparedness. This week we’ll discuss one of the most basic preparedness items, a personal or family Go Kit.

A Go Kit should be assembled and customized according to individual needs following some general guidelines from FEMA. Be sure to look under the tabs for additional suggested items.

AP_fairdale_tornado_14_sk_150410_16x9_1600Let’s look at some of the items which should be included:

Water, one gallon per person per day for three days for drinking and sanitation. For long term storage the crystal clear containers hold up better, but water and food stocks should be rotated out regularly.

Food, a three day supply of non-perishable food. If using canned food, be sure to include a can opener. Specialty meals designed for use by campers are also a good option. Check preparation instructions to be sure you have all of the necessary equipment.

Battery powered, hand cranked and/or solar powered radio capable of receiving NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio and standard broadcast. Carry extra batteries.

Flashlight and extra batteries. Batteries will generally last considerably longer in LED flashlights.

Washington, DC, July 22, 2008 -- A Red Cross "ready to go" preparedness kit showing the bag and it's contents. Red Cross photograph

Red Cross via FEMA

First aid kit. A good basic kit will suffice unless special needs are involved.

Whistle to signal for help. A small air horn is also a good addition, but you can’t beat a whistle for convenience. It takes less volume of air to blow a whistle than to yell which can be important if one is trapped by debris. A whistle or horn also has a better chance of being heard over heavy equipment.

Dust mask.

Plastic sheet and tape if asked to shelter in place.

Local maps. Remember, familiar landmarks may be destroyed in some disasters.

Cell phone with chargers, inverters, solar power, charging packs, etc. Note, avoid using accessories such as the built in flashlight which tend to run down the battery rapidly.

Prescription medications and glasses. Setting aside medication can be problematic so work with your physician and pharmacist to see what can be done.

Cash and change. If the power is out or communications lines down, ATMs will be out of service.

Copies of insurance papers, account numbers, etc. Do keep these in a special place in the kit so you can keep track of them.

Infant formula, diapers, pet food, etc if applicable. Include a leash for your pet and count their water needs as well.

Change of clothes. Err on the side of warmth and waterproof items.

A couple of items recent experience has shown to be very valuable. Sturdy shoes or boots. Sandals and flip flops are not at all useful when walking through debris. If you have identified a shelter area in your home, you might want to keep the spare shoes/boots there.

Bicycle helmets or hard hats may also be useful if easily accessible to your shelter area.

Remember a Go kit should be able to do just that, pick up and go, should the need arise. It is important to temperate the desire to plan for all contingencies with the practical need to perhaps carry the kit for some distance. Kits are also available from retailers, but make sure to customize to your needs.

Posted on May 6th, 2014 in Earthquake

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Oklahoma Geological Survey have issued a rare Earthquake Warning for a potential magnitude 5 or above quake for the state of Oklahoma.  How rare?  This is the first earthquake warning ever for a location east of the Rocky Mountains.

183 earthquakes of magnitude 3 or higher were reported in Oklahoma between October of 2013 and mid-April 0f 2014.  Up to 2008, the long term average was just 2 a year.
The surveys say that past experience has shown that clusters of smaller earthquakes often precede a quake of magnitude 5 or stronger.  Oklahoma experienced a damaging 5.6 magnitude earthquake in 2011.  14 homes were destroyed and two people were injured.

Scientists are studying a possible correlation between the increasing use of deep injection wastewater wells used in connection with hydraulic fracturing in the oil and gas industry  and the increase in the frequency of earthquakes in Oklahoma and elsewhere.

Earthquake SafetyThe Federal Emergency Management Agency has a very good earthquake preparedness website .

In addition the USGS has preparedness tips.

A consortium of organizations from earthquake prone California has a seven step preparedness guide.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency has a downloadable game that can help families learn about earthquakes together.

Earthquakes can and do occur in every one of the 50 states so the current situation in Oklahoma provides an opportunity to review our personal, family, institutional and business plans.

Posted on February 1st, 2012 in Community Prepraredness, Community Resilience, Earthquake

Has the earth moved beneath your feet lately? When I checked the USGS site this week, there were 935 earthquakes recorded for the past eight days in the 48 conterminous states, Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Those earthquakes in the conterminous (great word!) states occurred from California to Massachusetts.

The 2012 Great ShakeOuts begin in February with the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut. On February 7, more than one million people will participate in the ShakeOut. Other states, British Columbia, Guam, and New Zealand will hold their ShakeOut events later in the year. Regardless of when the event is held, all have a common message. When you feel that first jolt, immediately Drop, Cover and Hold On.

What can you do to help your communities?

  • If you live in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, or Alabama,  encourage your audiences to participate in the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut— it is free and open to the general public.
  • Teach audiences how they can become resilient and resistant to earthquakes. Youth groups can focus on science (what causes earthquakes) and staying safe during an earthquake. Adults can be shown how to taking steps to protect property and homes from an earthquake can actually be good practice for normal times.
  • Partner with EMA (select your state and drill down to find the local office) or Public Safety department to host an earthquake drill.
  • Model good preparedness practices. Make sure your home, office, family and colleages know the drill and are prepared.

Posted on March 13th, 2011 in Earthquake, Hazards and Threats, Tsunami

Between the weather and the earth, hundreds of thousands people have suffered major ill effects this past week. The most devastating of these was the Magnitude 8.9 earthquake off the east coast of Japan on March 11. That was followed by a tsunami that caused more damage to Japan and rolled eastward impacting the U.S. Pacific Region.

USGS map

The EDEN network was alerted early Friday morning to the disaster and, as new reports were issued, the network was updated. We have heard from our colleagues in Guam and Hawaii. Their first reports are now posted on the EDEN site. In addition to these reports, the Tsunami page has been updated to reflect the current situation. In addition, the page provides information about tsunamis and how to prepare for them as well as what to do when a tsunami warning is sounded.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is working in support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) who is the lead federal agency when responding to international disasters.

Although aftershocks of 6.0 and larger continue off the coast of Honshu, Japan, no new tsunami warnings have been issued. The U.S. Geological Survey monitors earthquake activity around the world.

It’s time to move.. EDENotes at has worked well, but we think the time has come to move the blog to eXtension. With that move, it will be easier to post articles by guests and for readers to post comments. In addition, it will keep our blog more closely aligned with our Community of Practice in eXtension. If all goes well, our next post will be from our new site.

Regards, Virginia Morgan, EDEN Chair

Posted on January 28th, 2011 in Earthquake, Hazards and Threats

The first Catastrophic Events Team meeting was held in Memphis, TN January 26-28, 2011.  The team, supported by a special needs grant, began its work with a well-timed focus on earthquakes. 2011 is the 200th anniversary of the New Madrid Earthquake. This anniversary is being used by FEMA and others to raise awareness about earthquakes. Do you know what to do if your area experiences a significant earthquake? The EDEN Catastrophic Events team will research and evaluate existing disaster education materials, and then, based on the best available research and documented best practices, compile and test educational resources.  


The first afternoon of the team’s face-to-face meeting featured a trip to the Center for Earthquake Research and Information (CERI). Gary Patterson, CERI Director, Education and Outreach and Brian Blake, Earthquake Program Director for the Central United States Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC) talked to us about the New Madrid Seismic Zone and the potential impact of a large earthquake or series of earthquakes along this fault line. CUSEC is one of the sponsors for the April 28 Great Central US Shakeout. The team then began organizing nd creating mind maps for next steps.

Interested in this or another catastrophic event? There’s space for you on the team. Contact Tim Prather or Rick Atterberry.


Back row: Vernon Turner, Abby Lillpop, Lynette Black, Virginia Morgan, Time Prather

Front row: Rick Atterberry, Conne Burnham, Summer Prisock

Not pictured: Peter Barcinas, Steve Cain, Mike Dennison, Pat Skinner and Bill Hoffman 


Regards, Virginia Morgan, EDEN Chair

Posted on January 12th, 2011 in Earthquake, Hazards and Threats
A post by Steve Cain upon his return from a Resource Allocation Workshop.

Some of you may be noticing a change in FEMA’s approach to emergency management. That become apparent at this workshop that I mentioned in the previous EDENblog.  That change in emergency management looks at the whole community as a resource. FEMA increasingly emphasizes “Whole of Community Response Planning” in all they do. Their goal is to improve the nation’s preparedness through more effective collaboration with all members of the community. This reflects a shift from a government centric approach to the concept that communities are capable of providing self-aid/self-help. These principles depend on:

  • A public that is a resource, not a liability  
  • Engaging atypical partners and collaborators 
  • Training and exercises that involve all stakeholders   

 Also, whole community planning may mean that response agencies need to: 

  • Obtain regulatory waivers, change standards, and change policy 
  • Focus on outcome-related objectives, especially increasing the number of people who survive 
  • Recognize that response is a push event; recovery is a pull event, and 
  • Develop pre-scripts or “play-books”

For more on this topic here’s a video of FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino explaining the “whole of Community” and “Maximum of Maximum” concepts. 

FEMA understands that volunteers and local organizations tend to know their communities well and are trusted leaders. As trusted leaders, volunteers can enhance the value of correct information and efforts in an effective and motivating manner in planning for and after a catastrophic event.  And, Extension has resources to help. As FEMA embraces the “whole community,” Extension can find a home in that community.

From a catastrophic event perspective, several lessons were derived from the workshop.

  1. The definition of long-term recovery in ESF 14 is restrictive. It can be expanded.
  2. States and communities will have to be strategic about which areas will recovery and redevelop.
  3. Communities that prepare for response will be better prepared to recover.
  4. Companies will be strategic about where they rebuild. Cooperation between the state and private sector will enhance community recovery.
  5. States can more quickly engage federal partners in the disaster response. Such response includes pre-scripted mission assignments for the federal and national partners.
  6. There will not be enough resources for the entire event, which will put pressure on local communities to respond and recover.
  7. If telecommunications capabilities exist immediately after the event, they may decline before recovery begins as generators run out of fuel and no fuel is delivered into the area.
  8. The role of neighborhood communities and volunteers is generally underdeveloped. Although they can be valuable assets, they are often overlooked and underused. Extension can help.
  9. Most, if not all, state  Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOADs) do not have adequate, if any, catastrophic plans. We are developing one in Indiana. When completed, I will share it. 
  10. A more complete vision of the 15 ESFs will help Extension communicate with emergency responders.
  11. I am convinced that developing Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COADs) is one of the most effective and efficient (low cost) ways to prepare our communities. COADs are often the local, community-based groups that resemble a state VOAD.

Posted on January 7th, 2011 in Earthquake, Hazards and Threats

A post by Steve Cain upon his return from a Resource Allocation Workshop.

Hat’s off to the emergency managers from the eight states* who recently put together a Resource Allocation Workshop to plan for a New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) event. Leaders from the eight states said they are not prepared for a 7.7 magnitude earthquake in the New Madrid area. This was a historic opportunity to bring together teams from each of the states who met with 15 distinct teams from federal and national agencies and organizations to close the gaps before the events happens.

In the plenary session, Brigadier General John Heltzel, Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium Board chair, said, “Gaps cost lives.”

As a part of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security team, we rolled up our sleeves for two-and-a-half days and met with the experts and examined the state’s resources for each of the 15 Emergency Support Functions (ESFs).

While Extension could play a role in all Emergency Support Functions that would be spreading already thin resources too thin. In Indiana, Purdue Extension contributes  as a supporting agency in ESF 6 – Mass Care, Emergency Assistance, Housing, and Human Services; ESF 11 – Ag and Natural Resources; and ESF 14 Long-term Community Recovery.

Observing the state, regional and national experts while they examined all 15 Emergency Support Functions showed that they have a mindset of 1) response and 2) “things.”  Maybe it was the nature of the scenario, but most of the discussions concentrated on response requirements for a major earthquake along the New Madrid fault line. That was probably a good thing because it took the entire 2.5 days. Conversations were focused on the Incident Command System, language, and the number of people and things the states would need from the federal partners to adequately address needs following an event of this kind. This workshop better enabled federal partners to hear states explain their capabilities and expectations, so that they can better plan for the provision of necessary support. It also allowed the states to understand the process through which federal support is provided (Mission Assignments, contract support, etc.). This type of workshop would be valuable just before hurricane season in some states. One can’t help but think, what might be accomplished if we had a second workshop that focused on mitigation and preparedness for the same event.


*The eight states were Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.

Posted on January 6th, 2011 in Earthquake, Hazards and Threats

I hope you’re not yet tired of hearing that! I love to say it for the first week of January each year because at that time I’m still settling back into the office routine and, while not making resolutions, reorganizing and refocusing my work efforts.

This new year brings new opportunities to work with local, state and national partners and colleagues.It also provides more time to continue work we started last year. Important efforts include ongoing engagement with FEMA. Last month, Steve Cain, EDEN Homeland Security Project Director, was actively involved in an intense workshop hosted by FEMA. The workshop focused on planning for a New Madrid Seismic Zone event. Steve will post his observations in the next couple of blog posts. Stay tuned!

Tim Prather, Tennessee Point of Contact and several other EDEN delegates are also interested in earthquakes. The Catastrophic Team meets late January in Memphis to begin the work of producing material for Extension educators.If you are interested in contributing ideas or content on earthquakes, please contact Tim.

If you live in the Central United States, you may also wish to get your state organized to participate in the April 28 Great Central U.S. Shake Out.

Regards, Virginia Morgan, EDEN Chair