Is North Alabama prepared for earthquakes?

People in Southern California are recovering after a whopping 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit. Its the strongest earthquake in the region since 1999.

Posted: Jul 6, 2019 5:35 PM
Updated: Jul 8, 2019 7:47 AM

The first natural disasters people think of here in North Alabama are flooding, thunderstorms and, of course, tornadoes. Officials say a serious earthquake could absolutely happen right here in our area.

"Its like being nauseated, motion sick, at least that's what it felt like to me," said Felix Jackson.

Jackson County Emergency Management director Felix Jackson has felt smaller earthquakes here.

"That wasn't anything compared to what people have seen out west in California," said Jackson.

Officials say more than 13,000 people in Ridgecrest, California were left without power after a strong earthquake shook the area. Just after the 7.1 magnitude quake, two others stronger than a 5.0 magnitude quakes came through. People we talked with today say that has them thinking about their own plans.

"You've got to think about things in advance even in North Alabama we're close enough to the New Madrid fault line that we could have broken windows, things broken in the home," Carter Dempsey.

Cathy Carter Dempsey is a retired FEMA worker and says she's ready to go if disaster hits. Her emergency kit is complete with weeks worth of food and water, along with a helmet, changes of clothes and other supplies. She even has a kit prepared for her dog, Teddy Rose.

"Disasters can be upsetting to pets so I've got her favorite blanket and her favorite dog toys," said Carter Dempsey.

Jackson says if the county saw an earthquake like the most recent one in California it would have a different challenges. For example, Jackson County has an extensive train system a derailment of a train carrying dangerous chemicals could cause serious issues. Also, Jackson County hasn't seen an earthquake like that before and while emergency protocols are in place, officials aren't entirely sure what a natural disaster like that would do to the county.

"We prepare like any other natural disaster, but we don't have a basis to go on," said Jackson.

Scottboro is no stranger to small quakes. Just last month a 2.4 magnitude earthquake shook this area. An earthquake that small doesn't usually cause structural damage.

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