Image: Missouri quake graphic
USGS
msnbc.com
updated 2/21/2012 12:23:56 PM ET 2012-02-21T17:23:56

Residents got an early morning jolt Tuesday after an earthquake rumbled at least nine states, causing minor damage and a big stir in the town of East Prairie, near the quake's epicenter.

“I live on a main highway and five miles from the reported epicenter,” Rhonda Brack, a manager at Tasters Restaurant in East Prairie, told msnbc.com. “It sounded like a semi-truck and it rattled my windows and it rattled my house.”

She said the magnitude 4.0 earthquake has been the hot topic of conversation since the popular breakfast and coffee house opened up at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday.

"We're no strangers to quakes, but this one was different," Brack said. "We had one four years ago and that one rolled. This one was straight underneath us and lasted for 30 seconds or so. It reminded you of lightning."

U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist John Bellini said the rural farming community of East Prairie is known for its seismic activity.

"It's a normal event that occurs from time to time," Bellini told msnbc.com. "It happens every two years or so. They have many that are small but no one can really feel them. Once in a while you will get one like this one that is wider and stronger."

Bellini said several people in Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee also reported being awakened by the temblor that happened at 3:58 a.m. GMT. A few residents of North Carolina, Alabama, Indiana and Georgia also experienced some shaking.

East Prairie City Administrator Lonnie Thurmond told The Associated Press he's heard reports of cracks in sidewalks and walls, some broken windows, and minor household damage such as rattled shelves and things falling from cabinets.

Adam Rhodes said he was awakened by the earth’s trembling and then carried on with this morning routine before heading into work at Creative School Zone in East Prairie.

“You heard it and felt it,” Rhodes said. "It woke up my wife and my 3-year-old, but my baby slept right through it."

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