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University of Missouri researchers host study on New Madrid residents’ perceptions of earthquakes

A researcher with the University of Missouri said this is a first step to help residents feel...
A researcher with the University of Missouri said this is a first step to help residents feel better prepared if disaster strikes.(KFVS)
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 9:20 PM CDT
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NEW MADRID, Mo. (KFVS) - Researchers from the University of Missouri want to get a sense of how locals think when it comes to earthquakes on the New Madrid fault line.

”This risk is always here in the region right and its always sort of waiting there and lurking,” Brian Houston said.

Brian Houston is the director of the Disaster and Community Crisis Center at the University of Missouri. He said folks should think about the risk of earthquakes, even though we all have a lot on our plates.

“You know we’ve been going through COVID and there’s flooding related to the river so there’s a lot of things that are on people’s minds,” Houston said.

Quakes are top of mind for longtime New Madrid resident Patricia Maltbia.

“Actually it’s scary... you hear about it; I’ve heard about it ever since I moved to New Madrid and it’s something to think about because it can happen at any time,” Maltbia said.

It’s not just new Madrid residents who need to worry about the fault line, according to the administrator of the town’s Historical Museum.

“Shock waves here travel up to 20 times as far as they do on the west coast from their seismic activity and that’s due to the location. This part of the continent has bedrock that is much more dense, there’s less fracturing down there and that is why shock waves travel much further here,” Jeff Grunwald said.

Houston also wants to get the locals’ opinions on earthquake insurance.

“It’s quite expensive in New Madrid county right now, you can pay over a thousand dollars a year just for your earthquake coverage,” Grunwald said.

“When you live in an earthquake zone, its best to have it,” he said.

Houston and the other researchers hope to come up with ways to lower those costs in the future.

“What we ultimately hope to do is take those findings and then develop some information, education and resources that can kind of help people maybe be better prepared moving forward,” Houston said.

The researchers are heading to St. Louis for a meeting in September to discuss earthquake insurance rates with local and state government officials.

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