JONESBORO — Wednesday night’s 3.5 to 4.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri served as a wake-up call to residents in the area, Dr. Joseph Richmond said.
Richmond, chairman of the Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management department at Arkansas State University, said he didn’t feel the temblor, but many of his friends did.
“I didn’t even feel it,” he said, adding that he was taking his dogs outside at the time.
According to The Associated Press, the U.S. Geological Survey said a 4.0 magnitude earthquake was recorded around 9 p.m. Wednesday in Wayne County, with the epicenter near Williamsville, Mo.
The Missouri Department of Public Safety said in a statement online that no injuries were immediately reported, but that some people reported pictures falling off walls.
The department said people as far away as St. Louis, Springfield and Memphis reported feeling the quake.
Ronnie Sturch, director of the E-911 system for Jonesboro, said his dispatchers didn’t field any calls following the quake.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimated the earthquake occurred at a depth of about 10.6 miles.
Richmond said, “It’s a good reminder that we need to be prepared” for a higher magnitude earthquake.
Richmond said when an earthquake strikes, people need to move quickly, finding a safe spot such as under heavy furniture in their house.
He said people should have an emergency kit with food, water, lighting, and batteries that will last for two weeks. He said some sources suggest having a 72-hour supply, but people in more rural areas should have the two-week supply.
Richmond said the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross offer suggestions on their websites on emergency kits.
He also suggested people have an emergency kit in their vehicles.
Richmond also said people need to write down a medical history, what medications they’re taking and a contact list of family or friends who do not live in the area. He said listing a neighbor who’s in the same situation won’t be of any help in case of an emergency.
He said people are of the mindset that: “‘It’s not going to happen here. It’s not going to affect me if it does’ and ‘If it does, there’s nothing I can do about it.’”
“Earthquakes are unsettling,” he said, because there is no early warning system to alert the public beforehand.
Richmond said in the past there were many failed predictions about when “the big one” was going to strike.
“If you cry wolf too many times, people will stop trying to be vigilant,” he said.
Dr. Amy Hyman, assistant professor in the Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management at ASU, specializes in social media use during emergencies. She said she felt the Wednesday night quake and “Twitter was alive and well” following it.
She said social media plays a role in reporting what happens during an emergency, but warned about false information that is spread through it, pointing to the falsehoods spread about the COVID-19 vaccine over social media.
She also said if communications were knocked out following an earthquake, it would take social media out of play.
“If it was still up, it would play a role in information,” Hyman said.
Richmond said the ShakeOut drills, which are held several times a year, encourage people in homes, schools, businesses and other organizations to practice what to do during an earthquake and improve preparedness using the “Drop, Cover and Hold On” methodology.