Did you feel the earthquake?
That’s the question that will be asked and answered for days to come in Letcher County after an earthquake measuring a preliminary magnitude of 4.3 on the Richter scale occurred at 12:08 p.m. on Saturday.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake’s epicenter was located about 10 miles west of Whitesburg in the Blackey area. Tremors were felt by residents from Columbus, Ohio to the north and Atlanta, Georgia to the south. Residents of Nashville, Tenn., and Greensboro, N.C., also reported feeling the earth shaking.
While there are some reports of property damage in Letcher County, the Letcher County Sheriff’s Office was mostly busy fielding calls from people wondering what had caused their houses to shake.
Sheriff’s dispatcher Chris Perry said he had received about 30 or 40 calls from people in different parts of the county wanting to know what had happened.
“People are calling just wanting to know what was going on, if it was an earthquake or an explosion,” Perry said about an hour after the earthquake. “It shook the building here good.”
Under the Richter scale used to measure tremors by the U.S.G.S., the 4.3-magnitude tremor is considered to be a light earthquake likely to cause only slight property damage even though it can be felt with slight to strong intensity. Heavy property damage becomes more likely when an earthquake measures at least 5.0
on the scale. Tremors measuring more than 6.0 likely usually result in a number of deaths. Still, a 4.3-magnitude quake releases 10 times more energy than 3.3 quake.
Roland Brown, of Blackey, was working outside when he thought he heard a loud train. Then he felt the ground rumble for about 10 seconds. His wife, Ellen, suggested that maybe what they felt was an earthquake. Roland Brown then looked on the U.S. Geological Survey website to confirm a tremor had happened near his home.
Brown said the foundation of his house located on Burton Hill cracked.
Numerous Letcher County residents also took to social media sites such as Facebook to talk about their experiences. A woman in Sandlick posted that her bed shock from side to side for about 20 seconds. Another woman posted that the windows of her Jenkins house shook. One woman posted that her house shook in Isom.
Perry said he hasn’t received any reports of injury or damage.
Rosie Mullins, a dispatcher at Letcher Fire and Rescue, said she has received about three or four calls from people wanting to know what happened. Mullins said none of the callers reported injuries or damage.
The earthquake also drew attention near Knoxville, Tenn. Jessica Winton at the U.S. National Weather Service in Morristown said the office eceived calls from throughout eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina and eastern Kentucky about experiencing the quake.
“Usually if it gets over 2.0 or 2.5 you can feel it,” she said. “We felt it here.”
The earthquake was also felt in South Carolina.