Shake Up September – Natural History of Maysville

September is National Preparedness Month — Do you have your Disaster Supplies Kit?

Did you know that Kentucky has a variety of fault systems across the Commonwealth? The largest is the New Madrid Seismic Zone, the most active seismic area east of the Rocky Mountains.

New Madrid Seismic Zone – Quaternary Fault Localities. Earthquakes with magnitudes equal to or larger than 2.5 are shown by the yellow dots.

Between December 1811 to February 1812, the fault’s activity produced 3 major earthquakes greater than magnitude 8 on the Richter scale.

These Earthquakes were so powerful, they have shaped the state we live in today by destroying landforms and creating lakes.

Reelfoot Lake in Fulton County, KY was created by the New Madrid fault in the 1811-1812 earthquakes.

The New Madrid fault has been relatively active the past 200 years producing several earthquakes averaging 2-3 on the Richter scale.

In 1980, it scared the “living daylights” out of people in Maysville with an earthquake measuring over 5.

In one 3rd Street resident’s report to The Ledger Independent, she claimed that at first, she thought the jolt was an act of God. Then second, she was afraid there had been an explosion at the power plant. The last thing she would have imagined was an earthquake.

Damage of Maysville from the 1980 earthquake. Photo Courtesy of the Kentucky Gateway Museum.

Maysville, located about 30 miles northeast of the epicenter, was hard hit. Reports indicated that damages cost over $1 million affecting 269 homes and 37 local businesses.

At the time, few property owners carried earthquake insurance not realizing what the forces under our pavements are capable of. For weeks following the tremor, business owners and residents could be seen outside sweeping up bricks and sharing their recounts of the earth-shaking event.

Though science is becoming more advanced everyday, it is extremely difficult to determine when a disaster will strike. Any natural disaster like an earthquake, storm, or tornado can cause power outages or destruction of homes and property.

After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water, and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.

For a list of supplies you may need visit:

Supplies can be found at the Kroger in Maysville, KY.

To learn more about Maysville’s natural history visit the Kentucky Gateway Museum opened Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-3:30pm.

For questions on disaster preparedness call the Buffalo Trace District Health Department: 606-564-9447 or the Maysville/Mason County Emergency Management Department: 606-564-2570.

Brought to you by the Buffalo Trace District Health Department:

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This article was written by Samantha Wilson for the Buffalo Trace District Health Department. Published September 21, 2020.