Beebe Offers Disaster Plan for New Madrid Fault Zone

JUNE 26, 2006 - Posted at 4:32 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Attorney General and Democratic nominee for governor Mike Beebe announced his plans for Arkansas Emergency Management today, saying that the state must not only be prepared for disasters big and small, but also that he will work as governor with neighboring states for disaster preparedness.

"In cooperation with local governments, first responders and our neighboring states, this plan prepares us for emergencies big and small, rural and urban, terrorist and natural," Beebe said.  "If FEMA can't get people off the rooftops of New Orleans and the Department of Homeland Security can't do better than 'minimal progress' at screening the cargo coming through our ports and up the Mississippi, then we can't depend on them for help in a crisis," Beebe said, referring to FEMA's failure to evacuate New Orleans residents during and after Hurricane Katrina and quoring the independent 9/11 Commission's report on DHS.

Beebe cites a two-phase plan to first strengthen the state's emergency management on the state and local level and then prepare in case of a large scale disaster.  Phase Two of the plan is to prepare for large-scale disasters like earthquakes, a pandemic, or terrorist attack.  Beebe proposed the creation of a special task force for interstate cooperation.  "We have to look to our neighboring states to help coordinate during a large-scale, interstate disaster.  If an earthquake hits on the New Madrid Fault, it won't merely devastate Memphis but stop at the Crittenden County line.  It won't just hit Jonesboro but cease at the Missouri border."  There is a 90 percent chance of a devastating 6.0 or greater earthquake on the New Madrid fault by the year 2040, according to the UALR Center for Earthquake Education and Technology Transfer.