Mexico City earthquake leads leaders to take look at how Memphis buildings would hold up

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The devastation following the Mexico City earthquake echoes a very real concern here in Memphis since we are near the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

"We have a lot of older building downtown that are heavy timber buildings and also and unreinforced masonry, and they would be suspect for collapse," said Allen Medlock of Shelby County Construction Code Enforcement.

He says if an earthquake where to hit Memphis, like the recent one in Mexico City, newer buildings would hold up better.

"All the buildings for the last 20 years have been built to resist earthquakes," added Medlock.

He says while recent construction projects keeps quakes in mind, old buildings also must be brought up to code if their purpose changes.

"Existing buildings, if they don't have seismic restraints, they put some in them as they convert them from one use to another," added Medlock.

Medlock says even though it's been a while since we've felt any major action, when it comes to rumbling from the ground, it's always a concern.

The last major earthquake in Memphis took place in 1865.