Tennessee emergency officials prepare for inevitable earthquake - WSMV News 4

Tennessee emergency officials prepare for inevitable earthquake

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TEMA officials said a damage quake is inevitable. (WSMV) TEMA officials said a damage quake is inevitable. (WSMV)

Experts with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said the state is due for a damaging earthquake.

“We’re in line within the next few years, 50 years or so, of having an event that will cause damage in Tennessee,” said Cecil Whaley, earthquake program manager with TEMA. “It’s just a question of what day it will happen, it’s not if it will happen.”

Eight states border the earthquake zone known as the New Madrid Fault Line, including Tennessee and Kentucky. Those states are the most likely to sustain serious damage.

“What will happen in Tennessee is the land in West Tennessee will drop maybe 10, 15, 20 feet, and then rise back up again,” Whaley said. “Therefore, you’ll have buildings that will be tending to tip over into each other or down, as opposed to cracking into fissures, which is what you have in California and Ecuador and Japan.”

Whaley said the buildings in downtown Nashville are built to last.

“For the most part, if you live in Nashville and you see all the construction that’s going on down in the Gulch and all around town in Nashville, the high rises, those are being constructed extremely well, some of the best codes in the world,” he said. “So you don’t really have to worry about those types of structures collapsing.”

TEMA has a real-time map showing where every earthquake occurs, no matter the size. Officials said the biggest concerns in the event of an earthquake are the loss of water, electricity and communication with the public.

“Social media is going to be critical for us, as well as broadcast media,” Whaley said.

When asked if the state is ready for the inevitable earthquake, Whaley said the answer is yes and no.

“We’re as good as any place in the United States, but we have a long way to go,” he said.

TEMA will host an earthquake exercise in Memphis this summer. They plan to bring in the National Guard, International Guard and the military.

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