Recently, we have seen a dramatic increase in sales of SurvivalOutpost products to customers in the Midwest. The reason for this increase in sales would seem intuitive -- Midwestern states have been getting routinely hammered by the epic winter snows of 2011; and indeed, this is partially the case. However, after interviewing a handful of our customers from the Midwest, we made a new and rather sobering discovery -- many of these customers are becoming increasingly worried about the New Madrid Seismic Zone, an increase in Arkansas earthquakes, and the strange (and poorly explained) deaths of thousands of birds and fish in the region, and they are planning for the worst.
When most people in the United States think of Seismic Zones, they generally think of California. With the San Andreas Fault slicing more than 800 miles through California - a massive fissure separating the North Atlantic and Pacific plates - and a history of attention-grabbing tremors to remind us of it's volatility, California generally wins the prize as the earthquake high-risk zone of note. But it may surprise you to learn that there is another active seismic zone in the United States, one that is responsible for this country's four largest earthquakes ever, with magnitudes exceeding 8.0, and it isn't on the west coast.
It's in the Midwest.
Specifically, this active region, called the New Madrid Fault, lurks under a four-state area including Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky, but has the potential to affect a region that is far greater. In fact, in a cluster of earthquakes that began in December of 1811 and continued into February 1812, referred to as the '1811-1812 Earthquake Series' and one of the worst in this country's history, the New Madrid Fault shook so hard that church bells on the east coast started ringing. People as far away as New York City and Boston could feel the rumbling. One tremor, located almost exactly under the spot where Memphis is found today, shook so hard the river appeared to flow upstream. As Wiki states,
"The future location of Memphis, Tennessee was shaken at Mercalli level nine intensity. Local uplifts of the ground and water waves moving upstream gave the illusion that the river was flowing upstream. At New Madrid, trees were knocked down and riverbanks collapsed. This event shook windows and furniture in Washington, D.C., rang bells in Richmond, Virginia, sloshed well water and shook houses in Charleston, South Carolina, and knocked plaster off of houses in Columbia, South Carolina. In Jefferson, Indiana, furniture moved and in Lebanon, Ohio, residents fled their homes."
A similar earthquake today would be devastating, and would likely result in thousands of deaths, billions of dollars of damage to structures and critical infrastructure, and the displacement of millions of people. Indeed, it would be an earthquake event of biblical proportions. Which is why, of course, people that live in this region of the country are becoming increasingly concerned.
It doesn't help that recent earthquakes have rattled the ground and nerves of Arkansans, plus the unexplained fish and bird deaths which have pockmarked the same region have people all-a-jitter. All of this has understandably sparked wild and fanciful, and in some cases outlandish speculation as to what might be really going on. From HAARP testing, to a 2012 pole shift, to oil industry gas 'fracking' gone amok, to biblical End Times geophysical volatility, the wild-eyed conspiratorial musings about the New Madrid fault zone would be downright hilarious were it not for one small exception...and that exception is that it appears as if FEMA has taken a sudden interest in the New Madrid Fault and is actively planning for a potentially devastating event.
In late January 2011, FEMA distributed a series of RFIs (Request For Information) to potential vendors to provide food, blankets, fuel and other resources in the event of a New Madrid earthquake. The language in the request is sobering, "The purpose of this Request for Information is to identify sources of supply for meals in support of disaster relief efforts based on a catastrophic disaster event within the New Madrid Fault System for a survivor population of 7M to be utilized for the sustainment of life during a 10-day period of operations." FEMA is essentially soliciting a vendor (or vendors) to provide in excess of 14 million meals for a New Madrid event, for ten days.
That's right -- 140 million meals.
Conspiracy theories aside, the timing of these requests are strangely coincident with the earthquakes and widespread bird and fish kill in the region, which, not surprisingly, has caused this thing to go viral. And even a rational mind has to stop and meditate on the timing of these requests.
Keep in mind, FEMA is paid to look for potential risks and then take appropriate steps to mitigate the associated hazards. Preparing for the low-probability, high-consequence event is what they do (or at least what they should be doing). So, taking steps to prepare for a New Madrid event seems both logical and responsible. But...the question nevertheless begs, why now? What changed in 2011 to cause FEMA to suddenly take the New Madrid seriously, given that the hazard has been there for hundreds of years?
Is there a relationship between the dramatic increase in seismic events in northern Arkansas, the bizarre die off of birds and fish in the same area, and the sudden interest in the New Madrid Fault zone by FEMA?
Is all this coincidence or conspiracy?
And that gnawing uncertainty appears to be motivating a lot of people into action.
Whether there is anything to the timing or not, it is always best to be prepared.
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