Earthquakes are occurring more frequently in parts of the U.S. where they have historically been rare, and quake hazard is rising for people not used to thinking about or preparing for it.
The rising risk was underlined Wednesday by the release by the U.S. Geological Survey of an update to the U.S. National Seismic Hazard Maps, noting hazard in the central U.S. and on the East Coast higher than previously thought. Among the highest risk states: Missouri and Illinois.
According to the USGS, the frequency of earthquakes in the central and eastern U.S. has quintupled, to an average of 100 a year during the 2011-2013 period, up from only 20 per year during the 30-year period to 2000.
Walmart Stores Inc, with its huge network of stores and facilities, has also taken note. ”We are seeing increased earthquake activity in the central U.S. That is an area we are focusing on even more,” said Mark Cooper, senior director of emergency management at Walmart, in an interview. He explained that Walmart takes an “all-hazard” approach to emergency preparedness, but focuses on specific risks in areas of the country where those risks are particularly relevant, such as hurricanes in Louisiana. “A few weeks ago, we participated in an exercise to prepare for an earthquake on the New Madrid fault line,” he said.