Earthquake rocks SC; local residents report hearing rumbling, no damage

jmcfadden@heraldonline.com, adouglas@heraldonline.comFebruary 14, 2014 

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE

News of a rare South Carolina earthquake burned up social media among residents in York, Chester and Lancaster counties Friday night and Saturday, but emergency officials say no damage was reported locally.

The 4.1 magnitude earthquake, centered outside Edgefield near the S.C.-Georgia state line, sent tremors hundreds of miles in all directions and shaking the three counties late Friday night. Many local residents called 911 when the earthquake hit at 10:23 p.m.

Some told emergency operators they heard an explosion. Others recognized the activity as an earthquake, said Cotton Howell, York County’s emergency management director.

There were no reports of damage or injuries statewide, even in the epicenter of Edgefield County, said Derrec Becker, spokesman for the state Emergency Management Division.

On Saturday, the state Department of Transportation said bridges near the epicenter and several surrounding counties were safe.

DOT specialists began bridge inspections at daybreak Saturday near Edgefield and on U.S. 378 at the Savannah River, on U.S. 29 below Lake Hartwell and on S.C. 34 at the Saluda River below Lake Greenwood. Inspectors also checked around the Oconee Nuclear/Keowee hydroelectric area.

Readers of The Herald reported on social media that they felt the quake in Lesslie, Lake Wylie, Catawba, Rock Hill, York, McConnells, Fort Mill, Tega Cay, Chester and Lancaster.

One woman wrote that her “cabin shook, roof shook, floor rumbled.” A Lancaster County woman said her entertainment center was moved and the glass table in her living room shook so hard it nearly broke.

Melba Carter, who lives in the western Chester County community of Baton Rouge, said her entire house shook as she heard a rumbling noise outside, causing her and others in her home to jump into action.

“We looked at each other and went to the door, thinking it was an accident outside,” she said. “I jumped right on the phone and Facebook. Everybody I was calling felt it, too.

“Then I felt better. I didn’t want to think I was going crazy.”

From an emergency management perspective, the small quake was not significant, Cotton said, but it did give people something to talk about.

The tremors felt in many parts of the three counties are nothing compared to what South Carolina residents felt in 1886 when a “significant” earthquake shook Charleston, Howell said. Then, “we had church bells ringing and chimneys fall in Rock Hill.”

The area felt another “historic earthquake” in 1913, he said, when a quake rattled Union County and the surrounding area.

The quake was centered on the edge of Thurmond Lake seven miles west of Edgefield, just north of one of the areas hardest hit during last week’s snow and ice storm.

The State newspaper and The Associated Press contributed to this report

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