The Interstate Earthquake Emergency Compact of 1988 was ratified in Tennessee and the text may be found in the Tennessee Code Annotated in Title 58, Chapter 2, Part 7. The Compact proposed an agreement among ratifying states to “provide mutual aid…in meeting any emergency or disaster caused by earthquakes or other seismic disturbances.” This includes utilization of the resources of the respective states and resources available from the federal government to provide needed short-term earthquake disaster assistance. The Interstate Earthquake Emergency Compact was joined by Missouri and Mississippi in 1989 and by Indiana in 1990. The New Madrid Seismic Zone includes parts of Tennessee, Mississippi and Missouri. Indiana is impacted by the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone.
The Compact directs each party state to develop earthquake relief plans and programs, inventory materials and equipment available for relief efforts, maintain a databank of regional resources that might be needed during an earthquake disaster and to share this information with each other. The party states are also directed to share any available information on earthquake forecasts and reports of seismic activity. Requests for aid and assistance will be made from one governor to another in a spirit of cooperation “to provide an equitable division of any necessary earthquake relief efforts in order to avoid a disproportionate allocation of contributed resources.”
As required by T.C.A. Section 4-29-111 the Tennessee Governmental Entity Review Law, an audit was performed by the Comptroller of the Treasury and transmitted to the General Assembly on October 28, 2011. The audit reports that Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) has entered into three compacts to help address potential disasters and according to TEMA officials there is no cost to TEMA for belonging to the three compacts: the Civil Defense and Disaster Compact, the Interstate Earthquake Compact, and the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. The Civil Defense and Disaster Compact (T.C.A. Section 58-2-401) was established in 1951 but according to the report on page 21, it “has never been activated and is not necessary in light of the all-hazard approach of the nation-wide Emergency Management Assistance Compact.” Management at TEMA says the exact same thing about the Interstate Earthquake Emergency Compact. The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (T.C.A. Section 58-2-403) was not created until 1995 so it appears to this writer that there has been no cost to TEMA because it has not taken any action to implement these laws. Ignoring promises made to our citizens and those in neighboring states is shocking. Laws that have been enacted since 1951 and 1988 to protect our citizens from disasters have essentially been disregarded. Among other items, the audit recommends that TEMA must improve its efforts to assist county officials in completing and updating their state-mandated emergency management plans. “The failure of counties to update their emergency plans in a timely manner could adversely impact the state’s ability to effectively respond to and recover from disasters.”(p.19).
All three of these compacts are set to terminate on June 30, 2017 per T.C.A. Section 4-29-238 unless the state legislature takes action to extend them.