Natural Disaster Hazard Assessment

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Hazard Assessment for Memphis, Tennessee Environmental Geology

Hazard Assessment for Memphis, Tennessee A natural disaster is defined as any event or force of nature that has catastrophic consequences (“natural disaster”). The only reason that these events are considered to have catastrophic consequences is because people are negatively affected by these natural events. If people were not present during these events, they would not be considered catastrophic. The more people affected means the event would be considered more catastrophic. Tennessee is the 17th most populated state, with approximately 6.4 million residents (Infoplease.com). Within the state, Shelby county covers the most area, (755 square miles), and is also the most populated county, with approximately 927,644 people residing there (Infoplease.com). Shelby county includes the city of Memphis. Memphis is the most populated city within Tennessee with at least 645,000 residents (Infoplease.com). I have attached several maps in order to see different parts of the land. Map I shows where the county lines are located within Tennessee. You can also see where Memphis is located within the county. Map II shows the elevation levels of the state. As you can see in that map, Memphis is located within the lowest elevation levels of the state. Map III shows the rivers that run throughout the state. The main river that runs between the Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri borders is the Mississippi River. There are several natural disasters that I would consider to be threats to the Memphis area. One natural disaster that I would consider to be a concern to Memphis would be an earthquake. According to the United States Geological Survey, (USGS), there is an approximately six percent chance that there will be a major earthquake within 50 kilometers of

Memphis in the next 50 years (Homefacts.com). The last earthquakes that had magnitudes of five were in 1976 and 1991 (Homefacts.com). The earthquake recorded in 1976 was approximately 40 miles away from Memphis. Looking at the sources found, I see that Tennessee has had its fair share of earthquakes, so I would say that another earthquake occurring in the area should be a concern of the citizens and government officials. “There is a broad agreement in the scientific community that a continuing concern exists for a major destructive earthquake in the New Madrid seismic zone. Many structures in Memphis, Tenn.…and other communities in the central Mississippi River Valley region are vulnerable and at risk for severe ground shaking.” (USGS.gov). The New Madrid Earthquake of 1812 was one of the most significant events in U.S. history. Topographic changes were noted over an area of 75,000 to 130,000 square kilometers, with the total area shaken being at least five million square kilometers (USGS.gov). Back then, the damage was minimal because of sparse population. Nowadays, an earthquake that severe could result in “great loss of life and property damage in the billions of dollars” (Cusec.org). The fact that Memphis is the most populated city in the state, a small earthquake could cause a significant amount of damage. “By learning about the potential earthquake hazards in your area and by taking certain preparedness measures now, you can increase your chances of surviving an earthquake and minimize its dangerous and damaging impacts” (Cusec.org). There are many organizations that Memphis has in order to help citizens learn how to prepare for these catastrophic events, and what to do in order to survive. One organization is the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (R.A.C.E.S.), which is a volunteer communications group that assists the Shelby county area.

R.A.C.E.S. provides emergency personnel that can help with communications during local, regional, or national emergency/disaster events (Cityofmemphis.org). Another organization that provides help during emergency situations is the Memphis/Shelby County Emergency...
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