The novel Memphis 7.9 tells what
happens to Memphis and the eastern United States, as seen through
the eyes of those who are there, when a 7.9 magnitude earthquake
strikes on the New Madrid Fault.
The story begins a week before
the earthquake happens. Grad student Chris Nelson's computer
model predicts a strong temblor, but his University advisor opposes
making public predictions.
JQ McCrombie disbelieves any
possibility of a major earthquake, and using bribes and low quality
construction, makes a huge profit from the business of retrofitting
highway bridges for earthquake safety.
People in Memphis and throughout
the Mississippi Delta live with varying degrees of disregard,
complacency, and ignorance of the dangers of the New Madrid Fault,
only 45 miles northwest of the city.
The destined time arrives. In
twenty-three and a half seconds, beginning at 9:34:09 CDT on
a Saturday morning in May, a 70 mile fracture rips the earth's
crust from Lepanto, Arkansas, under the Mississippi River, to
Over the next thirteen minutes
seismic waves from the giant magnitude 7.9 temblor destroy the
upper Mississippi River Delta, including Memphis, and wreak havoc
across the eastern United States, from Chicago to New Orleans,
from Kansas City to Cincinnati.
Ninety-one million people in
twenty-two states feel the earth shake, hundreds of thousands
are injured, tens of thousands are killed, millions are left
homeless. Memphis is a lost city, cut off from the outside world.
Six hours after the great earthquake,
the realization of the full extent of the disaster begins to
set in. Rescue and recovery become paramount in a land still
shaking with aftershocks.
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