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Early Friday 5.2 earthquake jolts 11 states


Shake, rattle 'n roll


April 23, 2008
Windows shook, pictures bounced, dishes rattled, beds jumped and nerves were frazzled as an earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale gave the central United States a wake-up call early Friday morning.

"It was different," said Diana Parr, who lives in Cape Sandy in southern Crawford County. "It woke me up. Steven (her husband) had just got up and when I felt it — the bed kind of shook — I said, 'Steven, what is that? Is that an earthquake?' He said, 'Well, I don't know.' He said, 'Let me go outside and see if the wind is blowing.'

The quake struck at 5:37 a.m. and was centered 20 miles southwest of Vincennes, near the town of West Salem, Ill. It was a shallow quake, at 7.2 miles deep, and was felt from Wisconsin to Georgia and St. Louis to eastern Ohio.

Many people reported hearing a loud roar just before the jolt.

"At first I thought it was a tornado, but then I realized it was an earthquake and I just got up and then just kind of freaked out with Mom and Dad," the Parrs' daughter, Kayla, said. "I thought, 'Man, this is weird.' I've never went through anything like that."

"My patio door, it was just a rattling and rattling," Bob Poe of Marengo said. "I thought the raccoons were out there rattling that. I didn't know what it was."

Crawford County Community School Corp. Superintendent Dr. Mark Eastridge was one of those awakened by the shaker.

"I thought, 'What in the world is going on?' " he said. "It was like everyone else with my wife — 'What's that?'

"When we were in San Diego at the National Principals Conference, I woke up during the night, and I told my wife, 'I think we're having an earthquake.' She said, 'Turn back and go to sleep.' Turns out it was a 3.9 while we were there."

Eastridge said there was no damage to any of the county's schools. He said each building is covered with earthquake insurance, adding he also has the insurance on his home.

"It was an interesting experience," Eastridge said. "With the weather that we've had and how bizarre it's been, that's just fits right in with the picture. Ice storms, snow storms, floods, multiple floods, multiple snow storms, multiple ice storms, it's about time for an earthquake to happen."

Crawford County Emergency Management Agency Director Kent Barrow was one of the few who slept through the 5.2 tremblor. Barrow said some cracked walls were reported in the Milltown area, but for the most part, there was little damage. Cracked walls were also reported in Lanesville in Harrison County.

"My daughter said her bed shook a little bit, but I didn't feel anything and then Dispatch called and woke me up and told me what was going on," he said. "I've had a few people call up and tell me some pictures fell off the wall at their house, but other than that, there hasn't been any major damage."

Barrow said the timing of the quake couldn't have come at a more opportune time, with a district earthquake seminar planned for April 29 and 30 at Jasper.

"I think (this quake) will probably increase the participation there a little," he said.

Barrow said the quake will bring more attention to the New Madrid system, which generated great quakes of 8.2, 8.2 and 8.4 in 1811 and 1812. Those quakes forced both the Mississippi and Ohio rivers to run backwards.

Friday's quake was located on the Wabash Fault Seismic System that runs along the eastern Illinois-western Indiana border, where at least three fault lines are located.

Much closer to the epicenter, 38 miles away in Evansville, North Harrison graduate Ashley Uhl, now a student at the University of Evansville, just had to look around the room to know what was happening.

"I looked over and my chair was rolling back and forth a little bit," she said. "Most everyone here was woken up by it. All of our buildings were checked all day yesterday, but no damage, luckily."

Indiana Department of Transportation teams were activated to inspect bridges, buildings and roads. There were reports of cracked roads in Gibson County, but no issues had been discovered in INDOT's Seymour District. The inspections continued over the weekend.

Aftershocks also continued through the weekend. The largest came five hours after the main shock and registered 4.6 on the Richter scale. Most of the weekend aftershocks ranged from 1.3 to 2.8.

The United States Geological Society's Web site said the bedrock system in the central United States allows earthquake shockwaves to travel much farther than the west coast's San Andreas fault system.

"Earthquakes in the central and eastern U.S., although less frequent than in the western U.S., are typically felt over a much broader region," according to the Web site. "East of the Rockies, an earthquake can be felt over an area as much as 10 times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake on the west coast. A magnitude 4.0 eastern U.S. earthquake typically can be felt at many places as far as 100 km (60 miles) from where it occurred, and it infrequently causes damage near its source. A magnitude 5.5 eastern U.S. earthquake usually can be felt as far as 500 km (300 miles) from where it occurred, and sometimes causes damage as far away as 40 km (25 miles)."

There can be different issues with insurance claims following an earthquake. Mike Benham of Crawford County Security Company at English said homeowners need to check their policies closely.

"One, they need to report it to Kent (Barrow) as far as (Crawford County) EMA, if they've had any damage," Benham said. "Check with their insurance policies to see if they've purchased it. If they haven't purchased it, I don't know what programs are available for assistance out there for that."

"Earthquakes are not automatically covered into a homeowners policy," he said. "It has to be added as purchased. There's a 10-percent deductible usually. If you've got a $100,000 loss, then you have a $10,000 deductible."

"We always try to sell it or we offer it," Benham said. "Sometimes it's $60, $70, $80 (a year) more on a policy. Some people like to buy it and some people don't. Everybody has to analyze their own economics as to what they can afford. With today's economy, everybody's analyzing price. Deductibles are not the standard deductibles on a policy. They are by percentage of a loss. It is different."

Benham said he received several calls, but only had one claim filed, from the Milltown area. He also said most companies right now have a moratorium on earthquake policy sales due to a waiting period.

"This morning at the office they're not accepting any more earthquake policies," he said. "They've shut it all down, most of the companies. Some of them have put on a 15-day waiting period."

Benham added the quake will make more people aware of the New Madrid system, but noted there are other fault systems.

"I think everybody's talking about New Madrid, but there's other faults like the Wabash Fault," he said. "There's a fault in Vincennes. There's faults in Illinois. There's one in Harrison County. There's one that goes up in the Lost River area. This one was much more intense than the one in '87."

"It's a little scary," Diana Parr said. "When you're woken like that, you're not for sure what's going on. With the weather being like it is, there's been a lot of tornadoes, up like from 97 to 500 and something this year.

"That's what I thought it was. Then, I thought, no, earthquake, because of the way it was feeling. You just never know."

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