June 21, 2013

Central Maine towns shake, rattle in 2.6-magnitude quake

By Keith Edwards kedwards@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

SIDNEY — Many central Mainers were shaken – and stirred out of bed – by an earthquake early Friday morning.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported an earthquake hit Sidney at 6:14 a.m.

The earthquake was magnitude 2.6 and its epicenter was three miles underground.

A dispatcher at the Regional Communications Center in Augusta said the emergency dispatch center had received no reports of damage related to the earthquake. However, the center received calls from people asking what happened.

Dawn Jacques was in bed with her husband, Scott, at their Mount Vernon home when they heard a loud rumble and felt the house shake so much they thought a vehicle had crashed into their home.

“It shook the whole house, to the point we jumped out of bed because we thought somebody had come down the driveway and hit the house,” she said.

They looked outside and didn’t see any cars up against their home or any lightning that might have explained the noise as a thunderstorm. However, they did see their cows in a mad dash from the pasture where they graze every morning, running to what Jacques said the cows consider their “safe spot,” a collection of trees they like to be under during thunder and lightning storms.

Their dogs also were pacing, shaking, and their goats were making more noise than usual.

It wasn’t until later Friday morning when Jacques saw reports about an earthquake on the news, and on friends’ Facebook posts, and realized that it was the source of the noise and rumble they'd experienced.

Kathryn Swegart of Rome said she was sitting at the kitchen table reading when she heard a rumbling that sounded like a truck loaded with gravel racing down the road. She heard a boom that lasted five to 10 seconds, strong enough that it woke her sleeping husband.

Phil McSweeney of Readfield said he’d just replaced the pump on his washing machine Thursday night and started it up Friday morning before heading for work. When the spin cycle and water pump kicked in for the first time, so, apparently did the earthquake.

“The whole house shook and I thought, ‘That’s one hell of a pump!’ ” McSweeney said. “I ended up running around the corner to double-check the connections so I didn’t end up with a flood, but everything seemed fine.”

He learned later, from a colleague, that the shaking was caused by the earthquake.

Kennebec County Emergency Agency Director Richard Beausoleil said Friday morning he hadn’t heard anything about the quake.

“We’d get notified if there was any damage, and we would have done whatever we could to help,” he said. “So it must not have been much. Just rattled some people's dishes.”

In Waterville, police dispatchers Sarah Bailey and Carolyn Dodge started getting calls at 6:14 a.m. about the earthquake, with Waterville, Winslow and Oakland residents reporting a loud bang like an explosion, and houses shaking.

“State police called at one point and said they were fielding calls, and I heard Somerset (County Communications Center) was inundated with calls,” Bailey said.

Dodge and Bailey also experienced the earthquake in the Waterville Communications Center, located in the basement of City Hall.

“We couldn’t actually feel the shaking, but the ceiling was shaking, which was interesting,” Bailey said.

“It was rumbling on the ceiling. It kind of sounded like the ceiling was about to cave in. It was really quick, though. It was only three or four seconds, and then it stopped.”

The New England Seismic Network reported a seismic station at Peaks-Kenny State Park in Dover-Foxcroft also recorded the earthquake.

Melissa Weston of West Gardiner said at first she thought her home’s furnace was exploding Friday morning. When the house stopped shaking and she noticed the furnace wasn’t even running, she knew then it must have been an earthquake that had caused the house to shake.

The last earthquake reported in Maine, according to the Maine Geological Survey, was a 2.5-magnitude quake in the Boothbay Harbor area in January.

The largest earthquake in Maine, according to a USGS website on historic earthquakes, was a 5.1-magnitude quake in 1904 that knocked over chimneys in Washington County. It was felt throughout most of New England and in the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

For more information, go to http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes.

Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at kedwards@centralmaine.com

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