Tremor From Virginia Quake Rattles County
A 5.8-magnitude earthquake in southern Virginia made itself felt across Moore County Tuesday.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake occurred at 1:55 p.m. and was centered at Mineral, Va., in a rural area about 40 miles northwest of Richmond. The tremor shook buildings in Moore County and immediately became a topic of excited conversation.
Leanne Williamson was working at Honeycutt Jewelers in downtown Southern Pines when she felt “the whole building shake.”
“I felt it going up and down,” she said. “You could especially feel it under your feet.”
Dick White was sitting in the Red Door Cafe in downtown Pinehurst when the tremor struck.
“I thought it was me and the bad beer I had last night,” he said with a laugh.
After thinking about it, White added: “I’ll be darned. I survived an earthquake.”
Senior teller Linda Robson was by herself behind the counter at the BB&T Bank downtown when she felt the tremor.
“I thought I was going dizzy or something, but then I looked over and saw the water in my water bottle vibrating,” she said. “All I could do was grab ahold of my desk and just sit. Just a few minutes later, we saw the alert and realized what was going on.”
Some locals who felt the earthquake described a “weird” or “uneasy” feeling in their stomach. Others said they felt the tremor but thought it was operations at Fort Bragg.
“The only thing you ever feel in this area that shakes is Fort Bragg,” said Pam Lee of Re/Max Prime Properties in downtown Pinehurst.
‘Everything Was Shaking’
Debbie Giovanni of the Terpsichore dance studio in downtown Southern Pines said she thought the shaking was from a train, but when she looked outside her second-story office window, she saw no train on the tracks.
“Everything was shaking — the windows were shaking, the walls were shaking, my desk was shaking,” she said. “I got up from my desk and stood in the doorway for a minute and then left the building.”
Some, like Lynn Creech and Kathy Owens, knew exactly what was happening.
The two were in the Christian Book Store on Broad Street in Southern Pines when things got real quiet.
“Then Kathy said, ‘We’re having an earthquake’ and I noticed key chains shaking and the knight in our museum shaking,” Creech said
At the Given Memorial Library in Pinehurst, Terry Strohl said she didn’t feel anything while working at the front desk, but those working in the Tufts Archives in the rear of the building felt the shaking and heard the rattling of the display cases.
“We couldn’t figure out what it was,” said volunteer Gary Goss. “We realized the display cases were shaking, but that’s as far as we got until we learned that there was an earthquake.”
“At the time, I was joking that it was an earthquake,” said Audrey Moriarity, executive director of the archives.
Mark Cone, general manager of Sandhills Cinemas in Southern Pines, said there were about 200 patrons at the 10-screen theater when the tremor hit.
“A couple of them came out and asked, ‘Did you feel that earthquake?’ But it didn’t disrupt any of the projectors,” Cone said. “I knew what it was, because I have lived in Hawaii. It just kind of felt like you were sitting on a boat for about 15 seconds. It was kind of interesting.”
Cone said his wife called to tell him that “things” had fallen off the shelves at their home in Spring Hope, which is northeast of Raleigh.
“Apparently, everything was rattling around up there,” he said.
Most people who felt the quake were inside, or stationary. Many who were outside said they didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary.
Terry McLean was outside on Broad Street when he felt the ground move and heard a low rumble like a distant thunder.
“It was subtle,” he said, “but I felt the ground shake and a heard a little noise.”
Some people didn’t feel the quake.
The shaking, which lasted for less than a minute, did little to disrupt day-to-day operations or emergency services in the county.
“Hospital operations and information systems were not affected by the earthquake,” said John Ganley, safety officer for FirstHealth of the Carolinas. “While most employees in Moore Regional and satellite offices felt the tremor, there were no disruptions in services or power. We will conduct a general review of the hospital to look for any signs of abnormal stress, but based on our seismic zone and the strong structural design of our facilities, we don’t expect to find any issues.”
Scot Brooks, emergency management director for the Moore County Public Safety Department, said: “We definitely felt it. We thought somebody had backed into the building. The building shook a little.”
Brooks said the 911 emergency communications center received a rash of calls from the public shortly after the tremors were felt. By 3 p.m. those calls had dwindled to a trickle.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was 3.7 miles deep. Shaking was felt at the White House and all over the East Coast, as far south as Chapel Hill, N.C. Parts of the Pentagon, White House and Capitol were evacuated. There were no reports of major damage or injuries.
The quake was felt in Maine, New York, Ohio and in North Carolina.
According to the USGS, a 2.3 magnitude earthquake hit 35 miles south of Asheville in March. The largest earthquake to hit North Carolina was a 5.2 magnitude near Waynesville in 1916. The largest quake to be felt in North Carolina was a 7.3 magnitude quake centered near Charleston, S.C.’ in 1886. Sixty people died in that quake.
Ted M. Natt Jr., Hannah Sharpe, Florence Gilkeson and John Chappell contributed to this story.
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