MEMA hosts earthquake-preparedness seminar; focuses on search/rescue

PEARL — Mississippians, both residents and first responders, must be ready for an earthquake. An important focus for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency is to strengthen search and rescue capabilities.

This week, MEMA hosted a seminar at Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia, focusing on the challenges of earthquake search and rescue.

Local and state first responders learned more about the earthquake hazard in the central U. S., which includes north Mississippi. They also learned what resources would be required following an earthquake.

“We can’t wait for a disaster to happen and then begin to identify assets you need for the response,” said MEMA director Robert Latham. “This effort is intended to identify current search and rescue capabilities and determine where our gaps are so that we can work with the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security in training and equipping the needs.”

While the focus of the seminar was on earthquake risk, search and rescue assets around Mississippi are a major component of the response during other disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes and any other hazards the state faces.

MEMA is working with the Central United States Earthquake Consortium to ensure that the state is prepared to respond to and recover from an earthquake.

CUSEC was established in 1983 with funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with the primary mission of reducing deaths, injuries, property damage and economic loss resulting from earthquakes in the central U.S.

The number of earthquakes known to have occurred within Mississippi’s boundaries is small, but the state has been affected by numerous shocks in neighboring states.

The New Madrid Seismic Zone Earthquakes of 1811 and 1812 were felt as far south as the Gulf Coast, and caused the banks of the Mississippi River to cave in as far south as Vicksburg.

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