Quakes hit Midwest, Alaska; no serious damage

/ Source: The Associated Press

A moderate earthquake struck the Midwest early Monday, rattling windows and awakening sleeping residents from Wisconsin south to Missouri and from Indiana west to Iowa.

No injuries or serious damage was reported from the 4.5 magnitude quake, which occurred about 1:11 a.m. CT.

Meanwhile, a far more powerful quake — magnitude 6.7 — rocked Alaska early Monday. But because the epicenter was beneath the ocean off the sparsely populated Panhandle in southeast Alaska no serious damage or injuries were reported.

In the Midwest, police agencies and radio stations within the quake area were inundated with telephone calls.

‘It was mayhem’
“It was mayhem around here for a while,” said Pattie Burke, a dispatcher for the Ottawa Police Department. “We had more than 200 calls from residents in a short period of time, all of them wanting to know what had happened. A lot of them seemed to think a truck had crashed into their house.

Brian Lassige, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Colorado, said the quake was magnitude 4.5, and its epicenter was about eight miles northwest of Ottawa in northern Illinois, close to the small village of Troy Grove about 70 miles west of Chicago.

“Here in the station, it felt like an aircraft was about to crash right here.”

The quake was felt at three nuclear power plants in Illinois: Quad Cities, LaSalle and Dresden.

Craig Nesbit, a spokesman for the Exelon Corp., which owns the three generating stations, said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission declared an “unusual alert” for all of them, although there appeared to be no damage.

“All of them were operating 100 percent, and no problems were reported, but we did a check of all safety systems,” Nesbit said.

Nesbit said the three stations supply electrical power for several million Illinois residents.

‘It was like somebody shot off dynamite’
Reports of the shaking came from at least as far east as Valparaiso, Ind., and as far west as the Quad Cities, and from Wisconsin in the north to the St. Louis area in the south.

Gary Spaulding of Marseilles, Ill., said he was relaxing in his mobile home when the quake struck.

“It was like somebody shot off dynamite,” said Spaulding, who added that his cat leaped out of his lap and would still not come near him two hours later. “I thought maybe a tree hit my trailer.”

Joe Knapp of Delafield, Wis., just west of Milwaukee, said he was asleep and awoke when the bed began shaking. “Everything was just rolling back and forth,” Knapp said.

Residents in Alaska also were jolted from their sleep when a quake occurred at 1:50 a.m. Alaska time (5:50 a.m. ET).

The temblor was centered beneath the ocean off the southern end of the panhandle, said Bill Knight, a scientist at the Alaska Tsunami Warning Center at Palmer. The center had calculated a preliminary magnitude of 7.0 but the U.S. Geological Survey later put the magnitude at 6.7.

The jolt, capable of significant damage had it happened near populated areas on land, did not generate a tsunami or seismic sea wave, Knight said. Callers to the center reported only “items falling off shelves,” he said.

“We’re pretty lucky, I guess,” said James D. See, police chief in Craig, a logging and fishing town about 60 miles northeast of the epicenter. A 6.1 magnitude temblor had shaken the town last July 12.

See said the quake, which lasted about 20 seconds, woke him up and knocked a picture off the wall but caused no other damage in his house.

Residents deluged police with calls. Nobody reported damage to buildings but some effects may be evident only after daybreak, See said.