There’s one earthquake, more or less, every day in Missouri. Most are small, not enough to rattle the dishes or be noticed by anyone but scientists with sensitive equipment set to track these things.

There’s one earthquake, more or less, every day in Missouri. Most are small, not enough to rattle the dishes or be noticed by anyone but scientists with sensitive equipment set to track these things.

But we all know the big one is coming.

The New Madrid fault is clear across the state in southeastern Missouri, and the evidence indicates it’s produced major earthquakes every 300 to 500 years. The most recent was a series of major quakes in late 1811 and early 1812, before statehood and before a whole lot of settlement west of St. Louis.

Those quakes caused massive damage and left such reminders as a realignment of the Mississippi River. When the next one comes, officials say, the damage could be catastrophic. Roads and bridges would be destroyed. Dams could fail, leading to instant, terrible flooding. Power could be out for weeks in parts of the state. The worst of it would stretch from St. Louis to Memphis, but life in Kansas City would be disrupted in important ways too. Think of the effects on transportation and the economy.

The state last week convened a meeting of earthquake experts and emergency planners to again sound the warning: Get ready. Experts say the fault is due – maybe overdue – for a moderate quake.

We’ll add one more word of encouragement to that: Good emergency planning covers a variety of threats, from tornadoes and flooding to earthquakes and terrorism. Every business, every church, every household is well advised to be as ready as possible for any contingency.