To prepare for an earthquake a scientist has predicted could strike the New Madrid Fault zone on Dec. 3, some residents are stockpiling bottled water. But others are stockpiling beer.

Some people are taking New Mexico climatologist Iben Browning's prediction seriously.Browning says there's a 50-50 chance for an earthquake measuring 7 or greater on the Richter scale along the New Madrid Fault on or about Dec. 3. The fault runs from Cairo, Ill., to Marked Tree, Ark., and was the source of a series of severe quakes in the early 19th century.

Most scientists believe that the region could be hit by a strong quake in the coming years but put little stock in Browning's theory, which is based on the timing of strong tidal forces in early December.

Shoppers have been cleaning out stores' supplies of items like bottled water and can openers. And travel agents have been busy helping people make plans to get away for the week.

But others are choosing to believe the scientists who criticize Browning's projection.

At Hap's Bar and Grill in New Madrid, owner Jack Hailey is taking advantage of anxiety that has taken hold of the zone.

Hailey's planning an all-day Shake, Rattle and Roll Party featuring a bottomless pot of gumbo. A St. Louis radio station plans to broadcast live from the tavern.