Quake felt in parts of Middle Georgia

wcrenshaw@macon.comFebruary 15, 2014 

Emergency dispatchers in northern portions of Middle Georgia began getting some strange phone calls late Friday night.

People were saying their houses were shaking and windows were rattling. Little did anyone know at the time that an earthquake was happening.

Don Druitt, director of the Macon-Bibb County Emergency Management Agency, said most of the calls came from the northwestern part of the county.

“People called in and said they felt shaking of the house,” he said. “We didn’t have any reports of any damage.”

Troy Reynolds, fire chief and EMA director in Baldwin County, also said people reported house shaking, but there was not damage.

“They were just wondering what it was,” he said.

The 4.1 magnitude quake happened at 10:23 p.m., centered near Edgefield, S.C. It was felt as far as the midstate.

“A bunch of really confused people,” is how Monroe County EMA director Matthew Perry described the calls that came in following the quake.

Within about four minutes first call, he said, dispatchers had confirmed that a quake had occurred.

On Saturday, engineers from the South Carolina state Department of Transportation were out evaluating bridges. Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Emergency Management Division said that’s standard procedure after a quake.

The quake, about 7 miles from Edgefield, S.C., was felt as far west as Macon and as far north as Hickory, N.C., both about 150 miles away.

USGS geophysicist Dale Grant said it was a large quake for the area.

Many Middle Georgians reported in social media that they felt the quake, although many also said they didn’t or slept through it.

Authorities across South Carolina said their 911 centers were inundated with calls of people reporting what they thought were explosions or plane crashes as the quake’s low rumble spread across the state.

Reports surfaced on Twitter of a leaking water tower in Augusta following the quake, but the tower was damaged by ice from a winter storm earlier this week and not the quake, said Richmond County Sheriff’s Lt. Tangela McCorkle.

No damages or injuries from the quake itself had been reported, said Becker. The ice storm felled a lot of trees in the area, which could make it more difficult to determine what damage was caused by the quake.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley felt the earthquake at the governor’s mansion in Columbia. She asked the Department of Transportation to inspect bridges in the area Saturday morning as a precaution, said her spokesman Doug Mayer.

Tom Clements, a resident of suburban Columbia about 60 miles east of the quake’s epicenter, said he felt the walls of his brick house shaking “and they were definitely shaking like what I’ve experienced before in Latin America” during an earthquake.

Clements said he immediately went outside to see if anyone else had felt it and he found two neighbors who had.

“One thought a tree had fallen” under the weight of ice dumped by the storm, he said.

Earthquakes aren’t unheard of in the region. A 4.3-magnitude earthquake happened in Georgia in August 1974 several miles west of Friday’s quake. Three others of similar magnitude have been felt in South Carolina in the past 40 years, according to the USGS.

The largest earthquake ever recorded on the East Coast was a 7.3-magnitude quake near Charleston in August 1886 that killed at least 60 people.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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