Thursday, February 17, 2011

Geologist urges residents to be prepared for earthquakes ( The

Geologist urges residents to be prepared for quakes

It isn’t if, it’s when.

That was the message given to folks gathered Tuesday to hear about how to prepare for an earthquake.

Scott Ausbrooks of the Arkansas Geological Survey talked about the big ones: New Madrid in Northeast Arkansas and Missouri, San Andrea in California.

He also talked about those closer to home: The Enola Swarm and now, officially, The Guy Swarm.

Earthquakes in the Greenbrier and Guy area are occurring more frequently. Most are too deep, too small to be felt by humans, but Ausbrooks and his sensitive instruments can feel and measure them.

There were two little quakes Tuesday, he reported, and since the swarm began, there have been too many to count.

Neighbors are worried, wondering what to do.

So the Roadrunner Extension Homemakers Club hosted a seminar at the Natural Resources Center on Amity Road and invited a panel of experts representing public safety, public utilities, the Red Cross and Patrick Moore, the Faulkner County Coroner.

Ausbrooks said, “Drop, cover and hold on. Don’t run outside to prevent being hit by falling debris.”

Sheila Maxwell, director of the county’s Office of Emergency Management, suggested folks sign up for Code Red, a reverse-911 system that will call a resident’s phone number with a message about approaching storms, missing children, escaped convicts and other emergencies the populations should know about.

Wayne Denson of the Red Cross said to prepare, get a kit, check the list and stay informed. After a disaster, folks may be on their own for at least three days. He distributed flyers that tell what supplies to stock to make it through the worst.

Keith Kittinger of Centerpoint Energy said if a resident smells gas, don’t try to discover the leak, don’t try to shut off the line, don’t turn off a light switch, don’t use the garage door opener, don’t start the car. Just leave.

Sandy Brewer from Conway Corp. said utilities would likely fail. Cable, electricity, water, sewer may be lost. For the latter, he encourages folks to keep on hand a bucket and lime. Denson said the Red Cross hadn’t thought of that, and would be adding that to their list.

Maj. Andy Shock from the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Department said for some folks disasters are a tragedy. For bad folks, disasters are an opportunity. Crime goes up, and in addition to helping with immediate concerns, the public safety folks are charged with protecting property.

Bringing the seminar to a close on a dreary note, Moore said, “People want to bring the bodies to us. We ask that the bodies stay where they are so we can do our investigations.”

(Becky Harris can be reached at 505-1234 or