Texas Liberal

All People Matter

In The Midwestern Earthquake I Felt, People Ignored It As If It Happens Everyday

The Midwestern earthquake earlier this morning was no real surprise.

( Above you see a map of the epicenters of Midwestern earthquakes since 1974.)

This earthquake, centered in southern Illinois, was 5.2 on the Richter scale.

There was little damage.

Here is an explanation of the Richter scale. 

The New Madrid fault zone is the source of many of these earthquakes. Here is information on that fault zone from the U. of Arkansas at Little Rock. 

The 1811 & 1812 New Madrid earthquakes were very powerful. 

Here is the Earthquake Hazards Program of the U.S. Geological Survey.

I was in a Midwestern earthquake in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1980. I was 12. I was at a movie theater when it happened. The theater shook and swayed.

My mother and I got out of our seats and walked to the lobby to try and figure out what was going on. Many others did as well. This seemed like a normal reaction to shaking and swaying. This would seem especially the case when you’ve never been in an earthquake before.

What struck me at the time was the number of people who did not move from their movie seats.  A 12 year old knew something was up, but many just sat there. It was hard to see how people could have missed feeling the quake.

You wonder sometimes how folks can often be so oblivious to things taking place right in front of them. Whenever I see someone who seems clueless, I think back to that earthquake.

Below is information on that 1980 earthquake from the Ohio Seismic Network ( Click here for the full link.) — The earthquake that shook Ohio and all or portions of 13 other states and southern Canada on July 27, 1980, initiated numerous media and citizen inquiries concerning this particular earthquake and the general seismicity of Ohio. Many residents of Ohio were amazed to learn that the state had ever experienced any previous earthquakes and were startled to find out that more than 100 earthquakes have been reported from the state since 1776.

April 18, 2008 - Posted by | Cincinnati | , , ,


  1. Woke me up at 534 thought there was a truck coming down the hill. no truck went to the basement to see if a pipe had burst. nothing went back to bed. saw online there was a earthquake. it shook good enough to wake me up. we had gun fire two houses down a couple of weeks ago and i slept right through it.

    Comment by bill brady | April 19, 2008

  2. A little variety in your life–guns and earthquakes.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | April 19, 2008

  3. The people who stayed in their seats must have been from the west coast. 🙂

    I feel robbed. Sure Texas gets the occasional small earthquake but other than that all we get are hurricanes, tornados, floods, hailstorms, drought, ice, oppressive heat, snow, prairie fires and dust storms.

    Comment by citizenx | April 19, 2008

  4. I felt it, but I grew up in California so I knew instantly what it was. As soon as the shaking stopped I went back to sleep.

    But your post reminded me of a great story I read recently in the Washington Post called Pearls Before Breakfast. It won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing this year. They convinced Joshua Bell, who’s considered one of the best concert violinists in the world, to play for 45 minutes at a Washington Metro station. The Post editors were worried about causing a logjam, maybe creating a hassle for the police. Instead, of the more than 1,000 people walked by, and maybe 4 or 5 stopped to listen. But interestingly they said that every kid who walked by tried to stop, but their parents pulled them along. Here’s the story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html

    Comment by Julie | April 19, 2008

  5. Citizen X—The prospect of the damage in Houston and Galveston that was predicted from Hurrucane Rita was natural disaster enough for me here in Texas.

    Julie—Thanks for the comment. I might do a post on the article you mention.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | April 21, 2008

  6. here is great poem about earthquakes in the states.


    Comment by bill brady | May 8, 2008

  7. I remember the earthquake that hit Cincinnati in the 80’s I was in Huntington, WV and felt the shakes. I lived in a 3 unit house duplex upstairs & our floor shook a little like a washing machine on spin.

    Didn’t know what it was at the time until I heard it on the news later.

    Comment by Jerry Pinson | August 23, 2011

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