When thinking of earthquakes in the U.S., California often comes to mind. But what if a massive earthquake suddenly struck Middle America? Would first responders and emergency managers have the tools to swiftly secure infrastructure and ensure public safety? Would every level of government, as well as stakeholders at non‑governmental organizations or in the private sector, know how to properly communicate and share resources? The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) asked itself these questions, and they were the driving force behind S&T joining the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and others for FEMA’s 2019 Shaken Fury exercise.
Although you seldom hear about earthquakes in the central U.S., the threat is real along the New Madrid Seismic Zone, which crosses eight states: Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Mississippi. An earthquake there could cause catastrophic physical and economic loss, which makes bringing stakeholders together in one place so critical for preparation. From soil degradation to identifying alternate transportation routes, from power generation to destroyed pipelines—the need to coordinate and deliver relief is of utmost importance.