November 15, 2012

Letcher County earthquake affects few in London

No damages reported locally

By Nita Johnson
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Many people were chanting words similar to Carole King’s 1971 hit song, “I Feel the Earth Move” after a 4.3 magnitude earthquake occurred in southeastern Kentucky just minutes after noon on Saturday.

Laurel County Dispatch received nearly 60 calls from area residents who felt the tremors from the earth shifting that was centered in Blackey in Letcher County, but extended northward to Cincinnati and southward to Knoxville.

Karen Combs and her husband, Larry, said they did not feel the earthquake at their home in Laurel County.

“We were outside digging a ditch, so we didn’t feel anything but the vibration of the machine,” Combs said.

As Public Relations Director for Jackson Energy, Combs said she had not heard of any power outages or electrical problems stemming from the earthquake.

Laurel County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Eddy Sizemore said although he heard about the earthquake, he was another resident who did not notice anything out of the ordinary at his home.

Dwayne Hardwick of Crab Orchard said his family was in Lexington around noon on Saturday but did not feel the tremors. Marc Muse of Stanford was in London at the time of the earthquake but said he did not feel any movement.

Chris Roberts of Williamsburg, however, did feel the tremors, including an aftershock that cracked the sheet rock in his hallway.

“I have a log home and you could hear the logs cracking,” he said. “My daughter was upstairs in her room and I yelled at her to see what she was doing. Then my dogs started going crazy and I felt the house shaking.”

Although the shaking only lasted a short time, Roberts said he discovered the crack in the hallway’s sheet rock immediately after the earthquake.

Ricky Doss of Lawrenceburg said his family was home on Saturday but are among those who did not feel any vibrations.

“But my neighbor’s mother-in-law lives in the city limits of Lawrenceburg and my neighbor’s wife was talking to her on the phone and they heard her china cabinet shaking,” he added.

David Shivel, who works at the Wildcat Harley-Davidson, said he was riding his motorcycle when the earthquake began but noticed nothing different than usual.

“It always feels and sounds like an earthquake when I’m on that Harley,” he said, laughingly.

It was a different story for Mike Chaney, however, who was inside the dealership when the earthquake struck.

“I was out here (on the sales floor) but the guys in the shop felt the floor shake,” he said.

Chassie Vaughn, who lives off west Ky. 80, however, did more than feel a slight vibration.

“My table started shaking and my pictures on the wall started shaking and I thought they were going to fall off,” she said.

Laurel County Sheriff’s Detective Charlie Loomis said he and his wife, Rebecca, were home when they felt some vibration.

“We thought it was the washing machine vibrating until we realized the washing machine wasn’t on,” Loomis said.

Bennie Harrington, chaplain for the Wildcat H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group), said he was home in Williamsburg, but was outside and didn’t feel anything. He admitted being shocked to hear that an earthquake of that extent had occurred.

Keith Schoolcraft, interim director of Laurel Dispatch, said 58 calls were logged on Saturday immediately following the tremors that did affect some Laurel County residents.

“We had 23 calls to 9-1-1 and 35 calls through dispatch,” Schoolcraft said. “The guys here said they felt it and I felt it at home, where I live in the southern end of the county.”

Schoolcraft said none of the calls were emergencies, but were persons wondering what had happened or to confirm if they had actually felt an earthquake. Some, he said, called to ask if — and where — there had been an explosion of some type that would shake the earth in the manner they had felt.

Laurel County Sheriff John Root posted on Facebook that he had received several calls but that there had been no reported injuries or damages.

The earthquake was the second strongest in Kentucky’s history, surpassed only by the  5.2 magnitude earthquake that hit northeast Kentucky on July 7, 1980, near Sharpsburg in Bath County.

Most of the earthquakes affecting Kentucky occur in the western section of the state nearer to the New Madrid seismic zone in the middle Mississippi Valley. Although information is limited, Kentucky reportedly experienced an earthquake as far back as 1779.