Missouri would face billions in damages if quake hit

03/23/2011 13:32

St. Louis Business Journal

With the earthquake hitting Japan earlier this month, there’s been a lot of talk about what would happen in Missouri if a similar disaster struck the Show-Me State.

Missouri, along with Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas, falls into the New Madrid seismic zone.

If a 7.7 magnitude earthquake hit, a 2010 study from the Mid-America Earthquake Center of the University of Illinois predicts nearly 86,000 injuries and fatalities and direct economic losses for the eight states would total nearly $300 billion.

About $100 billion of those damages are covered by insurance, estimates Patrick Lawton, a vice president and strategic account manager for Aon Risk Solutions. Aon has about 200 employees in the St. Louis region.

The majority of Fortune 500 companies are insured for New Madrid and California earthquakes, he said.

“It’s not just the strict loss of when a building falls down or crumbles,” he said. “But it’s also the damage to the supply chain. Businesses can’t get unfinished goods to other companies.”

Such disruption from the 9.0 quake in Japan is already rippling stateside. Last week, GM, which has a plant in Wentzville, closed a factory in Shreveport, La., due to a shortage of parts from Japan.


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