Saturday, May 25, 2013
By Jessica Hall firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday's minor earthquake caused major excitement in Maine but little, if any, damage.
MAINE'S EARTHQUAKE was the 16th-strongest in the world Tuesday. There were 31 earthquakes total (minimum 2.5 magnitude), according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Here's a look at the top 20.
5.7 Taupo, New Zealand
5.6 Severo-Kuril'sk, Russia
5.4 Hachijo-jima, Japan
5.3 Makurazaki, Japan
5.0 Amsterdam Island
4.9 Hachijo-jima, Japan
4.9 Scalea, Italy
4.8 Lae, Papua New Guinea
4.7 Severo-Kuril'sk, Russia
4.6 Kozan, Turkey
4.5 Ahar, Iran
4.5 Arriaga, Mexico
4.4 Ashkasham, Afghanistan
4.4 Turkoglu, Turkey
4.2 Pointe-Noire, Guadeloupe
4.0 Waterboro, Maine
3.4 Glennallen, Alaska
2.9 Road Town, British Virgin Islands
2.9 Gold Beach, Oregon
2.9 Brenas, Puerto Rico
MAINE'S BIGGEST EARTHQUAKES (Date, Place, Intensity*)
1904 Eastport area VII
1869 Passamaquoddy Bay** VI
1857 Lewiston VI
1905 Sabattus VI
1912 Eastport VI
*Maximum values for each event using the Modified Mercalli scale, which preceded the Richter scale. A quake rated VI was roughly equivalent to 4.5 on the Richter scale, according to the Maine Bureau of Geology, Natural Resources and Coastal Areas and the U.S. Geological Survey.
**Location of epicenter uncertain; may have been in the Bay of Fundy or the Eastport area.
Source: State of Maine Bureau of Geology, Natural Resources and Coastal Areas and the U.S. Geological Survey
Stan Fuchs of East Waterboro said his home was about a mile from the epicenter but suffered no damage.
"It sounded like an explosion," he said. "It felt like it lifted the whole house up and set it back down."
The earthquake, magnitude 4.0, jolted the Waterboro selectmen, who were meeting two to three miles from the epicenter when the quake hit at 7:12 p.m.
The earthquake, which was felt as far away as Connecticut, prompted many Mainers to rush to their phones to compare stories and check on loved ones. In the process, they overloaded some phone lines.
"As a result of the earthquake last night, the 911 center in Portland was absolutely overwhelmed with 911 calls," said South Portland Police Chief Ed Googins.
"The problem is, they were not emergencies. They were people who wanted to know what was going on. We were getting calls from the region because other areas' 911 centers were getting logjammed and rolling over to an open 911 line, and essentially the dispatchers could not keep up with it," Googins said.
He said people who wanted to know what had happened should have turned on the television or radio and not bogged down critical public safety systems.
"That's what I did, and I'm the police chief," Googins said.
Time Warner Cable said it had some intermittent outages in its telephone service immediately after the quake, but everything quickly went back to normal Tuesday night.
Verizon Wireless spokesman Michael Murphy said, "Some individual cell sites performed at maximum capacity for a short duration of time immediately following the tremors but traffic returned to normal soon after."
The earthquake prompted the state Department of Transportation to do some bridge inspections Wednesday.
"We immediately mobilized inspectors, which is standard procedure," said Ted Talbot, the department's spokesman.
A loose joint was found on the deck of the bridge on Route 4A between Hollis and Buxton, but crews determined that the problem occurred before the earthquake. The loose joint was fixed Wednesday.
Alan Griffith, spokesman for Next EnergyEra Seabrook Station, said the earthquake caused no damage at the nuclear power plant in New Hampshire, which has been shut down since mid-September for a planned refueling.
Next EnergyEra declared "an unusual event" soon after the earthquake and maintained that status for about 6½ hours while workers visually inspected the plant.
An unusual event is the lowest of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's four emergency classifications. The plant is about 50 miles from where the quake was centered.
Central Maine Power Co. reported no problems.
In Waterboro, businesses ranging from the House of Pizza to Tropic Pets to Cornerstone Country Market reported no problems, other than some shaking and noise during the quake.
Jeff Balmer, one of the owners of Cornerstone Country Market, said he was at home at the time. He felt the quake but saw no damage to his house when he walked around in the dark Tuesday night. The store also held up, with no damage.
The quake dominated conversations Wednesday, with people comparing stories, but the worst Balmer heard was about a cracked window and a broken storm door.
-- Staff Writer David Hench contributed to this report.
Staff Writer Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at: