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Former Federal Emergency Management Agency director James Lee Witt is urging Arkansans to better prepare for major earthquakes in light of the natural disaster that’s ravaging Japan.

Witt made the comments at a rotary club gathering in downtown Little Rock on Tuesday.

He says that people in Arkansas need to make sure that the state’s bridges, schools and nursing homes are capable of withstanding earthquakes, especially with a rash of quakes hitting the towns of Greenbrier and Guy and the presence of the New Madrid Fault in northeast Arkansas, where seismologists say a major quake could occur any time.

President Bill Clinton appointed Witt to head FEMA in 1993. He’s now considered one of the nation’s go-to guys for disaster response.


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  • charlie3704
    March 15, 2011 at 8:21 p.m.

    Japan had an earth quake and now all the so called experts will come out the wood work and scream the sky is falling.

  • charlie3704
    March 15, 2011 at 8:24 p.m.

    And another question for ex-fema chief-----Why are all the trailers in Hope standing there and not used? That alone is millions of tax payers dollars you chief ordered for that area, and now being taken over by rats and snakes.How much money did you pocket for that mess up?

  • teddyq52
    March 15, 2011 at 8:57 p.m.

    before you start dogging the former fema director, James Lee Witt, maybe you should check your facts. he was not the fema director whenever hurricane katrina hit. so i'm assuming he did not pocket a dime off of that. also, would you rather him say: don't worry about earthquakes at all. then when one hit, you would start hollering because he didn't warn anyone. get your facts straight before dogging people.

  • Ran2133
    March 15, 2011 at 9:17 p.m.

    I know people who worked in New Mexico after the forest fire that almost got Los Alamos in 2000. FEMA, under James Lee Witt's direction, supervised the federal governments handling of the claims resulting from the fire. His direction wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars by paying thousands of people for claimed damages where none existed. Now, there were some legitimate claims that were paid but, the vast majority were not. That is fact!

  • KittyDigitize
    March 15, 2011 at 9:30 p.m.

    The trailers in Hope are gone. Have been for over a year now. They started selling them off last Spring. If there are any left, I would be amazed as they were selling them for a LOW price and I have neighbors who own some of them.

    As for earthquakes? Arkansas has the New Madrid fault and an earthquake can happen ANYWHERE. Doesn't even have to occur along a fault line. Earthquakes are happening all over this planet and more than usual. If they hit, they hit. After living in San Francisco for many years, you get used to these small tremblings. I know that many freaked with the 4.2 last week, but that's really not that big of a jolt. Jump to a 5.0 and you will have TEN TIMES the amount of shaking horizontal amplitude (shaking amplitude). So, for example, an earthquake that measures 5.0 on the Richter scale has a shaking amplitude 10 times larger than one that measures 4.0. Then it also depends upon the depth of the shaking amplitude... whether the wave is passing through underground streams or bedrock... MANY factors involved.

    I've been through to a 5.8 and believe me, these small quakes are nothing compared to those at a 5.0 or above. It's already been determined that this fault could render a 6.0, but they are finding that highly unlikely.

    I for one, do not believe that the gas well drilling is causing these quakes, but the fact that the whole world is shaking gives you reason to pause. When the pressure relieves itself from the gas well drilling and the quakes continue, many are going to be surprised.

  • charlie3704
    March 16, 2011 at 1:55 a.m.

    Teddyq52 you sir needs to do your homework,James Lee Witt took over during the middle of Katrina not after, and yes he is dirty. If found out how dirty he will be in prison. Want proof? ask the mayor of new orleans at that time, Mayor Ray Nagon. I am from south Louisiana and know first hand. I am a transplant cajun. And the trailers in Hope or were in Hope are scams done buy Local Governments. Pure and simple.

  • teddyq52
    March 27, 2011 at 4:52 p.m.

    charlie. if you look up james lee witt, you will find that he was NOT with fema during the katrina disaster. he served under Bill Clinton. He DID NOT serve under george w. bush. his firm was contracted out by the governor of louisiana to help out. but it was fema responsible for the trailers. once again, do some research. you can say what you want, but apparrently you're not doing such a great job on your homework.