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Recent catastrophic earthquakes in Chile and Haiti–and this week’s tremors in California and Baja, Mexico–have generated much-needed conversations about the preparedness of the U.S. for a major earthquake event. Despite the real and ever-present risks of earthquakes in three regions of the U.S., many major cities and smaller towns are woefully underprepared.

Of particular concern are the seven states (Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee) that sit atop the New Madrid/Wabash Valley fault zone, one of which (Illinois) experienced earthquake activity in February. These states either lack effective seismic provisions in building codes or strong code enforcement systems.

By comparison, current building codes in the other earthquake-prone regions–around Charleston, S.C., and along the Pacific West Coast (California, Oregon and Washington)–meet acceptable standards for seismic resistance.

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