Widespread Consequences of a Central U.S. Earthquake
An analysis of the impacts of a magnitude-7.7 earthquake on all three New Madrid faults was performed by the Mid-America Earthquake Center under the FEMA New Madrid Catastrophic Planning Initiative (Elnashai et al., 2009). Results indicated that this event would have widespread, catastrophic consequences (Figure 2.1), including:
• Nearly 715,000 buildings damaged in eight states.
• Substantial damage to critical infrastructure (essential facilities, transportation, and utility lifelines) in 140 counties: 2.6 million households without electric power; 425,000 breaks and leaks to both local and interstate pipelines; and 3,500 damaged bridges, with 15 major bridges unusable.
• 86,000 casualties for a 2:00 am scenario, with 3,500 fatalities.
• 7.2 million people displaced, with 2 million seeking temporary shelter.
• 130 hospitals damaged.
• $300 billion in direct economic losses, including buildings, transportation, and utility lifelines, but excluding business interruption costs.
Moreover, infrastructure damage would have a major impact on interstate transport crossing the Central United States.