More earthquakes may hit coast

  • Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Although the rumbling that shook the East Coast last week seemed to be an unusual event, earthquake experts say that South Carolina could be set to have more seismic events in the near future.
The Charleston Earthquake of 1886, which hit on Aug. 31, 1886, 125 years ago this week, caused great destruction and loss of life in South Carolina, according to historical sources.
Because of that earthquake, buildings in the Lowcountry are reinforced with earthquake bolts and seismologists are always on the lookout for other cracks in the fault line that runs near Charleston.

Drills encouraged

South Carolina has an annual earthquake awareness week and schools have drills on what to do in case an earthquake hits.
Besides schools and businesses, other organizations across the state are encouraged each year to participate in an earthquake drill.
In June, Georgetown County prepared for an earthquake by having a full-scale drill that included emergency officials.
The county’s earthquake drill was held June 15, starting at 8:30 a.m.
During the recent practice exercise, county emergency management simulated a 6.2 magnitude earthquake that reportedly hit Summerville.
Officials in the insurance industry said this week that earthquakes can strike anywhere at any time.
“Earthquakes in Virginia and Colorado on Tuesday serve as reminders that earthquakes can strike anywhere in the U.S. without warning. Such events clearly demonstrate the importance of disaster preparation,” said officials with the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety.”

Local impact

According to information about the Charleston earthquake of 1886, the quake was one of the most powerful and damaging quakes to hit the southeastern United States.
“The earthquake caused severe damage in Charleston, South Carolina, damaging 2,000 buildings and causing $6 million worth in damages (over $141 million in 2009 dollars), while in the whole city the buildings were only valued at approximately $24 million,” according to Wikepedia. “Between 60 and 110 lives were lost. Some of the damage is still seen today.”
Last week’s earthquake was a 5.9 magnitude event, which was felt in several southeastern states.
“As so many people experienced first-hand this week, earthquakes can strike anywhere, at any time, and without warning,” said Julie Rochman, president & CEO, IBHS. “Effective disaster safety measures can protect lives and property, but only if action is taken before, rather than after, a catastrophe like a major earthquake hits.”
For Virginia, last week’s quake ranked as the second strongest ever measured there.
Near the epicenter, brick house walls cracked, and chimneys were thrown down or badly damaged, according to officials. Minor damage was observed from about Bristol, Tenn., to Roanoke, Va.

By Kelly Marshall Fuller

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