A University of Illinois study released last week reports that St. Louis, Memphis and other towns near the New Madrid fault line are ill-prepared for a possible 7.7 magnitude earthquake.
The study commissioned by the Federal Emergency Management Agency found that such a temblor could leave 3,500 dead, 80,000 injured and 7 million temporarily homeless. Particularly hard hit would be St. Louis and Memphis -- the two largest cities near the fault.
The study predicts that Memphis residents could be without water for days if not weeks. In St. Louis structural damage to buildings and homes would be significant.
The Associated Press reports
that FEMA is planning on holding a national-level disaster drill in 2011 simulating a big New Madrid quake. In February, Governor Jay Nixon and other state officials convened in the town of New Madrid
to discuss how Missouri can ready itself for a major quake.