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Documentary Explores Area’s History with Earthquakes

By Lily King, Lucy Herbert, Merrick McCool, and Erin Walsh
IMC students

The UM Disaster Resilience Flagship Constellation recently launched several outreach activities to raise local awareness of earthquake risks.

At 10:17 a.m. Thursday, millions of people will rehearse how to respond when an earthquake hits, as part of the international Great Shakeout drill, said journalism associate professor and constellation steering committee member Kristen Swain.

“Everyone at UM is advised to practice this: stop, drop and hold on,” she said. 

In addition to promoting the Great Shakeout drill, earthquake-related speakers on campus, and Swain’s student-led social media campaign called Hotty Toddy Shakeout, the constellation also recently hosted a free screening of the short documentary, “New Madrid: The Earthquakes of 1811-1812.”

The award-winning documentary tells the story and explains the science behind the 1811 earthquakes that hit near New Madrid, Missouri, that sent aftershocks throughout the central part of America for months and affected Oxford. The Oct. 8 screening was the first event in a constellation speaker series coordinated by Stephanie Showalter, director of the National Sea Grant Law Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law and co-chair of the Disaster Resilience Constellation.

“People hear a lot about tornadoes in Oxford, but I suspect many people would be surprised to learn that we live near a major fault line and are at risk from earthquakes,” Showalter said.

The documentary, which discusses regional impacts of the last quake, can be accessed free at https://vimeo.com/36772839.

Guest speaker Nathan Moran, research associate with the Center for Earthquake Research and Information at the University of Memphis, said he is cataloging information for the New Madrid Compendium website about earthquakes that occurred in the Central U.S. before the 20th century.

“Although it has been over 100 years since the last big earthquake in the area, experts predict that another big one will eventually hit,” Showalter said. “By learning more about these previous events, we can be better prepared as individuals and communities in responding to the next one.”

For more information about the Hotty Toddy Shakeout campaign, visit “shakeout” on Twitter and Instagram or “Hotty Toddy Shakeout” on Facebook, Swain said. Or visit http://www.shakeout.org to learn about Thursday’s international Great Shakeout drill.

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