Monday, March 14, 2011

Are We Prepared?


Still pictures tell a story that sometimes moving ones cannot, and the still pictures from the aftermath of Friday's earthquake and tsunami in Japan tell a horrifying story that hasn't been approached in that country since the devastation in Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

The pictures are shockingly similar. Everything destroyed. Everything bombed out. Everything gone. And now, a humanitarian crisis has taken hold.

It remains to be seen how this story will end. It's ongoing as you read this and I write it. Remember, this was a country that was supremely prepared for this sort of incident. While Japan's building codes quite clearly passed the test, all the preparations that the Japanese people have made seem to have clearly saved a lot of lives as the death toll continues to still climb.

Are we prepared for a quake of this magnitude here in Indianapolis? It could happen.

An earthquake along the New Madrid Seismic Zone changed the course of the Mississippi River just about 200 years ago, and while that's many miles away, our geography does not make it a good situation for earthquakes. A 2008 FEMA report said that a 7.7 magnitude earthquake or greater has the potential to be economically devastating with "widespread and catastrophic damage" for the entire area. There's also the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone which gave us the 5.2 earthquake in April of 2008. The potential is there.

So, while there's no tsunami threat here in Indiana, there is a definite threat for a major quake sometime. We are not ready for it, either. Our building codes aren't where they need to be, and that goes for almost all the Midwest. Can you imagine?

I really hope that's as far as we get here...imagining.

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