Earthquake conference held to plan for potential next big quake

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 | 11:02 a.m. CDT

CHESTERFIELD — It has been nearly 200 years since the massive earthquake along the New Madrid (MAD'-rid) fault line shook much of the continental U.S., and some experts say it's only a matter of time before it rumbles again.

Today and Thursday, more than 250 mass care professionals are gathering in suburban St. Louis to consider what happens in the event of the next big quake.

The State Emergency Management Agency is hosting the Catastrophic Earthquake Conference in Chesterfield. The focus is on how to respond to the needs of people — needs such as shelter, food and water distribution.

The New Madrid fault line is centered in the Missouri Bootheel region. Earthquakes that struck along the fault in 1811 and 1812 are now estimated at a magnitude 8.0.

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