“8th earthquake in 5 months recorded near Summerville” was the headline on our local news website. The earthquakes have ranged between 1.5 and 2.6 magnitude on the Richter scale. Earthquakes are rated between 2.0 and 10.0. The higher the number the more devastation expected. There are over 1.3 million earthquakes in the 2.0-2.9 range per year. People generally don’t feel earthquakes of this size. Once you get to 3.0, you can expect some shaking and so on.
I haven’t felt any of the earthquakes in Summerville. I have an office in Summerville in Town Square. Truth is the train causes more shaking and aggravation on a daily basis than these earthquakes. However, they typically cause more conversation. There are people who must be quite sensitive to the earth moving (no pun intended) for they feel each one of the tremors. The conversation will inevitably turn to the “big one.”
For the past few years, we have added earthquake disaster preparedness drills. Earthquakes, train derailments, and dirty bomb drills have replaced the hurricane scenarios we practiced for so many years. Summervillians are familiar with the small dirt road off Miles Jamison named Fault Line Drive. Middleton Place Summerville Seismic Zone (MPSSZ), located about 20 km northwest of Charleston is the most active seismic zone in South Carolina. On August 31, 1886 a 7.6 earthquake rocked Charleston causing many building to crumble. I don’t deny the potential for another big one. I just don’t spend much time thinking about it.
Perhaps I take it too lightly, but I am much more concerned about hurricanes. As a Charleston native, I have been through many hurricanes. My first hurricane was Gracie. I was eight years old. The tornadoes and winds destroyed the Limehouse Bridge and the newly built Saint Andrews Shopping Center. I was not living in Charleston for Hurricane Hugo but mention the name and anyone living here at the time will share the details of the devastation.
Perhaps I make fun of the baby tremors because I have lived through two major earthquakes (6.0-7.0) and many mini earthquakes (4.0-5.0) while living in California and Nevada. They were expected. In 1971, I was living in Hollywood. Ca. when we experienced two earthquakes near 6.0 hit almost simultaneously. Our cabinets flew open throwing dishes and glasses onto the floor. Trees and electric lines lay across the streets. Electric power was out for couple of days. Buildings were damaged and a levy threatened to break. Aftershocks were felt for days. We had only been in California for a month when the earthquakes hit. There was no warning, no alarms, no radio broadcasts. At least hurricanes give warning long before they hit.
While living in Nevada, West Virginia, and Maryland, I experienced several blizzards and white outs. Driving becomes a death wish, trees fall, roofs cave in, and power outages can be life threatening. The Native Americans call a particular type of ice storm Pogonip or “White Death.” During the winter, you make sure you have extra supplies and propane heaters ready to go.
I have been chastised for not being concerned about the dangers of the next Charleston earthquake. I just think I am going to save my anxiety and fear for the next big Charleston hurricane. On the other hand, maybe one of those huge Air Force Cargo planes that fly low enough for eye contact with the pilot will crash into my backyard. You know for someone with all those fear issues, I think I am dealing with the next “BIG ONE” pretty well.