The effects of the Midwest Earthquake that struck Friday were limited in northeast Indiana, and consisted mostly of rattled nerves.
Although centered in southern Illinois, people in fourteen states and Canada reported feeling the 5.2 magnitude trembler. Part of the reason is the type of ground that lies beneath the center of the continent; geologists say the same quake on the west coast wouldn't have been felt nearly as far out. The 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes, centered in Missouri, made church bells ring in far off Boston.
Locally, many people slept through the earthquake, but many more were shaken from sleep or their nighttime jobs. At the Noble County Sheriff's Department, dispatchers received dozens of calls from every part of the county. Some of the callers knew it was an earthquake; others reported possible burglaries, thinking someone was breaking into their home.
Albion Police responded to assist an elderly woman at Skinner Lake, who also believed she was hearing an attempted burglary, but officers confirmed it was shaking from the quake.
Kendallville Police and Indiana State Police dispatchers were also innundated with calls, starting at about 5:40 a.m. just after the earthquake began. However, the closest damage was a bridge in southern Indiana, which may have had previous damage worsened by the shaking. INDOT officials stayed busy over the weekend inspecting bridges across the state.
Televisions showed a street in Louisville, KY, strewn with bricks that fell off a building. There were similar scattered reports, including a chimney partially collapsing, glass breaking, and a mobile home being shaken from its foundation.
There may have been advance warning, often ignored by humans: Their pets. Many people reported that animals began acting strangely before the earthquake hit, although they were largely ignored until after the fact. Near Kendallville, a number of horses broke out of their pen and went running down the road. They were spotted about fifteen minutes before the earthquake struck, but it can't be proven that was more than coincidence.
Still, keeping an eye on animals might be a good idea for future purposes, as officials caution that the region remains overdue for a major trembler. The Friday quake was only a little less powerful than the strongest on record in Illinois, a 5.3 magnitude shaking in 1968. Both quakes were believed to have originated in an offshoot of the New Madrid fault, which in 1811 and 1812 produced some of the most powerful earthquakes ever felt in the continental United States.
The area was lightly populated then; a similar quake today would cause multiple deaths and injuries, and an incaculable amount of damage. Emergency Management planners caution that citizens need to be ready for earthquakes, as much as they should be for more common Midwest natural disasters. Luckily, preparations are often similar for almost any kind of catastrophe, and include such simple precautions as having water, food, and battery powered flashlights and radios ready.
They should also remember that Midwest infrastructure isn't designed to withstand earthquakes, the way buildings and utility lines are in California. That means a more minor earthquake can cause much more damage.
When will the next earthquake strikes? Authorities are quick to point out that although they can't say when, they can guarantee it will.