Experts Recommend Insurance With Earthquakes, Floods Part of Life in Arkansas

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Mar. 18, 2013 12:00 am  

Michael Alexander of Argenia LLC of Little Rock said he sells more earthquake insurance after a big quake has been reported. (Photo by Michael Pirnique)

The payments have skyrocketed since the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2009, when FEMA paid $2.6 million in claims in Arkansas. And in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2007, only $549,000 was paid for claims.

Borengasser, of the national flood insurance program, said more floods started occurring in 2008, after nearly 18 years of little action.

He said he couldn’t attribute the recent rise of floods to any one thing, but it might be tied to global warming.

“It could be we’re getting more extreme weather,” Borengasser said.

Earthquakes Coming

Al-Shukri, the director of the Earthquake Center, said earthquakes had been hitting the state for years, mainly because of the New Madrid Fault, which is blamed for a series of catastrophic quakes in 1811-12 that briefly caused the Mississippi River to flow backward.

In addition, a fault line near Marianna has been dormant for decades, he said. Researchers are investigating that site for more information, he said.

A recent wave of seismic activity around Greenbrier has been linked to hydraulic fracturing, he said. The drilling in the fracking process hasn’t caused the tremors, but the fluid that is pumped into the ground to break the shale rocks and release the natural gas is linked to the quakes.

He said not all of the fluid injections were causing tremors, either.

“We anticipate in the future there will be some kind of major earthquake” in Arkansas, Al-Shukri said. As for where or when it will strike, that remains unknown, he said.

In the meantime, “a lot of preparation” needs to be done, including retrofitting buildings and schools and malls, he said.

It would be a good idea for residents to have an emergency kit handy and enough food and water to last 24 to 72 hours, he said.



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