’Everything shook really violently’: NC 5.1-magnitude earthquake felt in Southwest Va.

’Everything shook really violently’: NC 5.1-magnitude earthquake felt in Southwest Va.
Paul and his wife, Judy Porter, were awake, preparing for what they thought would be a normal Sunday in Fries, Virginia. Then a little after 8 a.m., things felt different. (Source: WDBJ)

SPARTA, NC. (WDBJ) - Homes trembled Sunday morning after an earthquake was recorded near the Virginia, North Carolina border. The epicenter of the 5.1 magnitude earthquake was recorded in Sparta, North Carolina, about a half-hour drive southwest from Galax or about a two hour trip to Roanoke.

A Virginia Tech Earthquake Researcher, Sean Bemis, said this earthquake is the largest one recorded in North Carolina since 1916. And folks in Southwest Virginia say they definitely felt it.

“We don’t expect something like this, for sure, no,” Paul Porter said. He felt the earthquake from where he lives in Fries, Virginia, about 30 minutes away from Sparta.

Paul and his wife, Judy Porter, were awake, preparing for what they thought would be a normal Sunday in Fries, Virginia. Then a little after 8 a.m., things felt different.

“Everything shook really violently in the house. I looked through the house, didn’t see any damage, but it was a tremendous shaking,” Porter said.

“There’s reports coming in from Southern Ohio, all the way down to Atlanta, Georgia, up to the Washington, D.C. area,” Bemis a Research Scientist with the Virginia Tech Earthquake Lab said.

These are all spots Bemis says people felt the quake.

“This is not a known seismic zone, this is not a place we expect earthquakes to occasionally happen,” Bemis said.

And yet, it happened, and people like the Porters are still shocked.

“It was a scary feeling, you know, I’ve never experienced anything like that,” Paul said.

This earthquake has not caused any known injuries, but it did cause minor damages, like at a grocery store in Sparta, where the ceiling broke open and food fell off shelves.

Grayson County Administrator Bill Shepley has been working with emergency preparedness folks all day to assess the damage and prepare for potential aftershocks.

“That could be anytime from right now through the rest of the week, so we’re waiting to see what happens there,” Shepley said.

“There’s certainly room for aftershocks,” Bemis said.

He says this earthquake will help researchers like him to learn more about our area. It also gives researchers a little more insight into what causes these quakes.

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