CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - At least 20 people are dead after a massive earthquake in the South Pacific. The magnitude 8.3 quake triggered at least four tsunami waves in American Samoa. The tremors were so strong that the impact was felt around the world, even right here in our backyard.
As people fled to higher ground hoping to escape the rushing waters of the tsunami, the power of this natural disaster was seen clear as day on the read out paper of a simple seismograph in Chesterfield County.
The event itself happened deep in the water, far away from high population centers between the islands of Samoa and American Somoa. But the earthquake is not the problem. It is the rushing waters of a tsunami, which is flooding masses of land in its wake. Destroying property and taking lives in the process.
"We do have fatalities and severe damage to Pago Pago the tsunami came in five waves etc, etc, etc." said a witness to the destruction.
The extent of the disaster's reach has not yet been realized. Hawaii and Japan are now in the path of danger. But believe it or not the best evidence of just how big this quake was could be found in the basement of a small house, just outside of Richmond.
"It is now going into three hours that is actually being recorded, here in Chesterfield County," said Woody Gentry.
Gentry has been tracking the movement of the earth with a homemade seismograph for close to 20 years. When he learned of the earthquake, the first place he went was his basement. He couldn't believe what he found.
"The larger earthquakes I do so, but nothing to this magnitude that fills up my entire drum," he said.
Just one small example of the power of this event, that took place thousands of miles away, but the shook the earth right here in Central Virginia.
It could take several days before the full extent of this earthquake and tsunamis are known. Warnings have been issued for coastal towns that could be impacted by the rising waters. It will be up to people living in those communities to head the warnings to move to safety.