Some At School And At Work Felt Brief Tremors; Others Did Not
It wasn't the collective imaginations of hundreds of local residents Tuesday afternoon.
There really was an earthquake a few minutes before 2 p.m., and yes, it was felt here -- at least by many Greene Countians, although many other local citizens neither felt nor heard anything, they told The Greeneville Sun staff in numerous brief interviews Tuesday afternoon.
The unusually large East Coast 5.9-magnitude earthquake, which measured at the top of the range of what seismologists consider "moderate," was centered in Mineral, Va., a rural area not far from Richmond.
There were no early reports of either injury or serious damage in any location, but the power of the earthquake was felt hundreds of miles away, including Northeast Tennessee.
In Washington and New York, for instance, the tremors were strong enough and long enough to trigger evacuations of many buildings, including the U.S. Capitol, much of the Pentagon, and numerous other structures.
Thousands of New Yorkers poured into the streets of Manhattan after the tremors, many believing at first that the city had again been attacked by terrorists less than a month before the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
'WATER SLOSHED, DISHES CLINKED'
In Greeneville and Greene County, there were apparently no evacuations, and no reported fears of terrorism.
But many local citizens indicated to the Sun that they would not soon forget what happened at about 1:50 on Tuesday afternoon.
Michael Massey was working at his computer in the DeBusk community.
"I had a water bottle beside me, and it was enough to make the water slosh around in the bottle for six or seven seconds," said Massey, who lives on Susong Memorial Road.
The earthquake woke up Massey's sleeping wife.
"The dishes in the cabinets were sort of clinking, nothing violent," Massey said. "I just thought that it was really neat. I've never experienced it before."
Tina Chudina reported that she was getting ready to leave her home on Wayfair Drive to pick her daughter up at Greeneville Middle School when she suddenly felt the ground tremble.
"For a brief instant, I felt a rumbling," she said. "But I dismissed it because I thought, 'What are the odds that we were having an earthquake?'"
Following the event, Chudina said she spoke to her husband, Jack, who told her that their apartment renters on Barton Ridge Road reported feeling the trembling as well.
"They actually came outside because the apartment had shook and it startled them," she said.
ON N. MAIN STREET
Leon Coker, co-owner of Greenwood Antiques, said that his North Main Street home trembled considerably just before he heard a news station issue an announcement about the 'quake hitting Virginia.
"Just before that announcement came on, our house just shook all over," he said. "Even the chandeliers swung back."
Coker said that there was no damage at his home or business and that the shudders lasted for less than a minute.
A "slight tremor" was felt at DeBusk Elementary School, according to school secretary Liz Arwood.
She and a parent were standing in the school's main office at a counter that moved during the earthquake, Arwood said.
Then, two teachers ran into the office asking if the office staff felt the tremor, Arwood said.
Nancy Murdock, who lives near Lowe's on East Andrew Johnson Highway, said she was lying down and felt her bed shake for a few seconds.
NUCLEAR FUEL SERVICES
Nuclear Fuel Services spokeswoman Lauri Turpin was in a meeting and said she didn't feel the earthquake in Erwin.
"After we had reports of the earthquake, we inspected the facility. We had no damage reported and no injuries. Everything is operating as normal," Turpin said.
AT TUSCULUM COLLEGE
Dr. Katherine Stone, an assistant professor of mathematics, physics and geology at Tusculum College, was teaching a class and unaware of the earthquake.
"Did I feel it personally? No," she said. "Some people are much more sensitive to motion."
The Great Smoky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains are ancient ranges and in the process of "slowly settling down," Stone said, and that process occasionally causes tremors and smaller-magnitude 'quakes. The one that struck Tuesday is somewhat unusual, Stone said.
"There have been extensive earthquakes in the area before," Stone said. "What happened today, you're probably looking at a normal settling of the plates."
Also at Tusculum College, Nicholas Mitchell, an admissions officer, felt the tremors along with some of his colleagues.
"I was sitting at my desk and felt this vibrating and heard the windows rattling slightly, but didn't really think anything about it because we're in an historic building," Mitchell said.
"My colleague in the office next to mine said she felt it and said some of the things on her desk started to rattle slightly, but didn't know what it was either," he said.
It was not until news reports began appearing a few minutes later that Mitchell and his co-workers realized what had happened.
AT CEDAR CREEK
Dana Wilds is secretary at Cedar Creek Church of God, 2800 Cedar Creek Road. She was working at her computer when she felt the 'quake.
"It felt like a big truck had went by or something," Wilds said. "We have a little stained-glass cross in one of the windows, and it was moving around quite a bit."
OTHERS FELT NOTHING
Four or five blocks from the middle of the Historic District, a homeowner reported that the tremors shook his house for several seconds.
But many individuals the Sun spoke with between 2 and 4 p.m. on Tuesday said they didn't feel a thing, including many working in downtown Greeneville, at the Greeneville Fire Department, the Greeneville Light & Power System, the Greeneville Water Commission, the Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society, the Crescent Building, and the University of Tennessee Research and Education Center.
Another Greene Countian who said he did not feel the tremor was Jesse Gosnell, a Viking Mountain Road resident who from time-to-time reports on weather conditions there for The Greeneville Sun.
THE BASIC FACTS
The 5.9 magnitude earthquake centered northwest of Richmond, Va., in Mineral, Va., in Louisa County.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was 3.7 miles deep. Shaking was felt all over the East Coast, as far south as Chapel Hill, N.C.
The temblor shook much of Washington, D.C., and was felt as far north as Rhode Island, New York City, and even Toronto, Canada.
In Washington, parts of the Pentagon, the White House and the Capitol were evacuated, and the earthquake sent hundreds of people spilling into the street only a block from the White House.
The impact was also felt hundreds of miles northeast of Washington on Martha's VIneyard, in Massachusetts, where President Barack Obama and his family are vacationing.