Earthquake rocks Washington, Hancock, Baldwin counties

lfabian@macon.comJuly 4, 2012 

Shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday night, Middle Georgians experienced an earthquake that registered magnitude 2.7, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The epicenter was recorded 7 miles north-northeast of Deepstep, 11 miles south-southeast of Sparta, 12 miles northwest of Sandersville and 18 miles east of Milledgeville.

Washington County Emergency Management Agency Director Russell Riner said it was around Linton Road near the juncture of Washington, Hancock and Baldwin counties.

Nakia Chatman, who lives just outside of Washington County in Baldwin County, was watching the movie “Independence Day,” when Chatman thought a car hit the house.

“My house just shook,” Chatman said. “It shook real hard for about 15 seconds and stuff was rattling on the walls.”

At 10:03 p.m., a Washington County deputy investigated a report of a loud boom and a house shaking on Panther Branch Road, several miles from the epicenter.

One Washington County woman noted that her neighbor was shooting off fireworks, so she might not have noticed.

“They may be getting used to it up there,” Riner said of the lack of phone calls. “We had another one a few years back.”

The quake apparently wasn’t enough to rattle folks in Hancock County, either.

“No, we haven’t had any reports or complaints about it,” said investigator Ricky Brown.

Near where Baldwin County meets Wilkinson County, Lisa Arnold was watching television when she heard what sounded like thunder, but there was no storm.

“It lasted several seconds,” said Arnold, who looked at the clock. “If it’s an earthquake, I wanted to know exactly what time it was.”

She noted it was 9:52 p.m.

The U.S. Geological Survey recorded the official time as 9:51:48 p.m.

“I didn’t feel any shaking, it was just the sound, but it kept going, Arnold said. “I just knew it had to be an earthquake because it was like the last one.”

Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers said they had no report of a quake passed on to them Wednesday, but had a ferocious storm in Milledgeville on Tuesday night.

Trees and power lines were down, and there were reports of damage along U.S. 441 between Wal-Mart and the Sonic on North Columbia Street.

Plywood was flying through the parking lot at Lowe’s and the Georgia Power sign was damaged, said Baldwin County volunteer firefighter Pres Haslam.

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