Magnitude 4.1 earthquake rumbles through Amherstburg, surrounding areas

 

 

By Ron Giofu and Jonathan Martin

 

Amherstburg was the centre of attention last Thursday night for a somewhat unusual reason for this area.

At approximately 8:01 p.m. Thursday night, an earthquake shook southwestern Ontario and southeastern Michigan with the epicentre of the quake being reported near Alma St. and Concession 5.

It was originally confirmed as a Magnitude 3.6 earthquake by the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) but has since been upgraded to a Magnitude 4.1 earthquake by Natural Resources Canada. It was felt throughout Windsor-Essex County and parts of Michigan.

The depth of the earthquake was reported at 7.8 kilometres.

The RTT was covering an event at General Amherst High School Thursday night when the quake hit. People in attendance questioned what the rumbling was as the floor shook but the event – a meeting on the various pathways students can take during and after high school – carried on without major interruption.

The Amherstburg Fire Department activated the “Amherstburg Alert” mass notification system later in the evening and informed residents of the situation. The update also confirmed that there was no danger from the Fermi II nuclear power plant in Monroe, Michigan.

“Amherstburg officials and Fermi Nuclear Plant have been in contact. It is confirmed that Fermi has been shut down since the last weekend and is at no risk of damage from the earthquake,” stated Amherstburg fire chief/community emergency management co-ordinator Bruce Montone in a press release.

No injuries or damage have been reported but if there are people who sustained damage, they are asked to report it to emergency officials.

Terry Hall, who lives on the top floor of an eight-storey apartment building on Dalhousie St., initially thought it was a quarry blast.

“There was a loud rumble in the building,” said Hall. “The dishes started shaking. My kitchen floor started going up and down. I was wondering what had happened.”

Hall joked on Friday that “I was thinking the town might brand the name and call a drink or pizza, or a town event as the ‘Amherstburg Earthquake.’”

Some residents didn’t feel anything, as they slept right through it.

“My mom was right,” said Dillon Hanson. “I really can sleep through anything. Apparently, earthquakes, too.”

The epicentre of an April 19 earthquake was in Amherstburg. It was originally pegged as a Magnitude 3.6 earthquake but was upgrade to a Magnitude 4.1 quake. (Image from USGS website)

While town officials are not reporting any damage, some residents are.

“My husband and I walked through the house to see if there was any damage after the quake and we (saw) this large, three-foot crack in our main living space,” said Bridget Reid. “My husband (Rich Reid) said it was likely that there was a small crack before and it just spread.  We would have noticed a three-foot crack if it had been there before.”

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said he was “stunned” when he learned that it was an earthquake but was pleased with the town’s response. He said he was at home when the earthquake occurred.

“I was just settling down to relax a little bit for the night and watch TV in the basement,” said DiCarlo, “and boom, it came rolling in.”

DiCarlo said his first impression was that of some type of explosion, such as a gas line or fuel tank. He was also reminded of what quarry blasts felt like at his home, though noted the quarry blasts were “moderate and properly done.

“It was the same sensation with a boom and some shaking,” said DiCarlo.

DiCarlo said he immediately contacted Montone and police chief Tim Berthiaume and while there was some initial thought it was a sonic boom, it was quickly determined it was an earthquake. He said they had to get confirmation from Canadian officials but stated there were “boots on the ground” ensuring the town’s infrastructure was fine and that there was no damage.

Another inspection of area infrastructure was scheduled for Friday.

There was no immediate danger to the public, DiCarlo added, and if there had been, an alert would have gone out quicker. In response to criticism that the town didn’t issue any public notification earlier than what they did, DiCarlo said the town wanted to confirm as much information as possible before relaying it to the public.

“It made no sense to say ‘we felt it too, we’ll get back to you’,” said the mayor.

DiCarlo added he was happy with the initial real-world use of the Amherstburg Alert system and they are taking feedback from the public on how it worked. Those who haven’t signed up for the alerts can do so at www.amherstburg.ca/alert. Thousands of land lines were already registered into the system but those who would like to register cell phones, e-mail addresses and fax numbers can still do so.

“Operations-wise, it went phenomenal,” said DiCarlo.

Town leadership quickly assembled at town hall and firefighters and police officers were out in the community to check for damage or any other issues.

“Communication was excellent,” said DiCarlo.

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