Earthquake rattles area residents
“It felt like the house had been hit by a truck. I was in my office and thought my husband had hit the house with the tractor,” said Alison Carter of southern Morgan County.
“The wall was waving and pictures shaking. It was quite a whack. It lasted about five to 10 seconds and seemed to be coming from the east,” Carter said.
Meanwhile, out in Largent, Linda Buzzerd was sitting at the kitchen counter with her laptop. “The earth started rolling under the house like it was on a washboard. It was absolutely weird,” she said.
Sam Marshall of Berkeley Springs said he was sitting in a chair reading the newspaper when the whole house jiggled. “It got my attention.”
All were experiencing the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck at 1:51 p.m. near Mineral, Virginia on Tuesday, August 23.
The quake was felt as far away as Toronto, Canada. Buildings shook in New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore. Damage was reported in Washington,
“It scared us. It shook the whole building,” said Cody Ford, who was working in he Town of Bath office.
At the courthouse, Ginger Johnson said, “We wondered what was going on. The whole building moved.”
“It was odd. It was almost like a rattling. All the crystals were shaking,” said Dennis Curtin, describing the sound at the Berkeley Springs Antique Mall.
Sue Parker said she was in a house in Unger on the second floor, felt the tremor, looked out the window and saw the power lines swaying even though there was no wind.
Dr. Matt Hahn in Hancock said, “The floor clearly shook and we watched some of the tables shaking.”
Bob Klimm was in Winchester pumping gas when the quake hit. All he noticed was the gas pump kept shutting off.
Trish Starliper at State Highways headquarters on U.S. 522 said they had no reports of any damage but felt the chairs shake in their office.
The 911 call center reported no emergency calls due to the earthquake.
At the epicenter
Although there was no real damage in this area, damage was reported in Virginia and the District of Columbia.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported three strong after shocks of magnitudes 2.8, 2.2 and 4.2 during the afternoon and early evening. A fourth 4.5 magnitude aftershock was reported early Thursday morning, August 25.
Denise Fruik, a niece of this reporter, lives near the epicenter of the quake in Louisa, Va.
“Anything that was on a wall or in a drawer is on the floor,” she said that afternoon.
Fruik saw her TV toppled over as she ran out of the house. She later drove to pick up her son who was slightly injured when the roof of the Louisa County High School gym collapsed.
Fruik said she was standing outside and was afraid to go into her house because of several aftershocks.
Rare in this region
Major earthquakes in the eastern United States are rare, but not unheard of.
Last Tuesday’s quake was the largest in Virginia since 1897 when the Giles County earthquake near Blacksburg was estimated at 5.9 in magnitude. It toppled many chimneys in the area.
An earthquake, similar to last week’s, shook the whole East Coast from Maine to D.C. in August 1884, and in August 1886 a powerful earthquake hit Charleston, South Carolina, damaging 2,000 buildings.
The strongest, most widely-felt earthquake in West Virginia occurred in Mercer County on November 19, 1969, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earthquake Information Center.
That magnitude 4.3 quake broke windows and cracked plaster at Athens, Lerona and Elgood in the southern part of the state near Princeton.