Letter from the Editor 

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"The earthquakes caused the ground to rise and fall — bending the trees until their branches intertwined and opening deep cracks in the ground. Deep-seated landslides occurred along bluffs and hillsides; large areas of land were uplifted permanently; and still larger areas sank and were covered with water that erupted through fissures or craterlets. Huge waves overwhelmed many boats and washed others high onto the shore ... whole islands disappeared."

The foregoing is not a description of the recent earthquake in Japan. It's taken from a USGS website summarizing the 1810-1811 New Madrid quake.

I found another fascinating USGS site, one which lists all seismic activity around the world in the past 30 days. In the two weeks prior to the devastating 9.0 Japanese earthquake on March 15th, there were 20 smaller quakes in the area. It appears the earth was giving notice. Would you be interested in knowing how many earthquakes there have been in Arkansas the past 30 days? Try 33! Admittedly, they were in the 2.0 to 3.5 range on the Richter scale, but there is a whole lot of shaking going on in our neighborhood.

We've learned recently that to retrofit the Pyramid for seismic protection will cost as much as $20 million. This will need to be done in order for Bass Pro — or any other tenant — to move in. This development came in response to increased requirements from the feds for earthquake-worthiness earlier this year. If the government is taking earthquake-preparedness seriously, perhaps we should as well.

Getting ready for a possible earthquake isn't on the top of anyone I know's to-do list, but there is plenty of information out there on how to do so. Most of it is basic: Have 72 hours' worth of nonperishable food and supplies on hand. (It may help Memphians to think of it as preparing for a snow day.) Your home should also have a first-aid kit, a battery-powered radio, flashlights, and a decent stash of bottled water.

It's also important to designate a contact person who lives out of the area. If disaster strikes and you're unable to communicate with each other, family members can try to check in at the designated number. I know this is something none of us wants to think about, but sometimes the unthinkable happens. We should all make like Boy Scouts and Be Prepared.

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

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