Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Maine Earthquake

I was sitting at home, when at 7:12 pm Eastern, my house shook like it has never before. (Freight trains roll through this part of Portland, a block and half away, so I thought when it started, it was just another train. But this was shaky like no train going by.)

I've felt earthquakes before. During the parts of two years I lived in San Francisco, earthquakes, mostly small ones, were not unusual. The biggest quake I remember before tonight was one in southern Illinois, on November 9, 1968. It hit at 11:02 am, and it measured 5.4. I vividly recall I was working with mental health patients at Anna State Hospital, in a large hall, used as a gym, on the hospital campus. We all raced outside, although I did wait a bit under the arch doorway of that grand hall. Reading about that New Madrid quake nowadays, I see what a large event it was and how lucky we were.

Tonight's earthquake is said to have measured at first 4.5, then it was upgraded to 4.6, definitely the largest in New England in a long time. Eyewitnesses across the Boston area reported feeling the quake for up to 20 to 30 seconds. (Wednesday morning, and the feds have downgraded it to 4.0. I must say, they must not be New Englanders and survived that one, cause it sure didn't feel like a little 4.0 quake.)

The epicenter is said to be centered west of Hollis and Lake Arrowhead, Maine, 23 miles west of Portland, where I live. But more importantly, the epicenter was first said to be 17 miles deep, then later only 3 (and on Wednesday, 4.1) miles deep. That is a very shallow earthquake, and probably why it felt so powerful here.

Mainers are tough people, and there does not seem to be any damage reported from this quake yet. (Wednesday: Some cracked foundations and chimneys are being discussed.)
Standing on the sidelines at a soccer game in Waterboro Tuesday night, Kevin St. Jarre saw the spectators in the bleachers across the field suddenly stand up. Then a ripple, a "landwave," began rolling from the bleachers and heading toward him.
"It came across the field, and it passed beneath my feet and then behind me to where the team was sitting on the bench," said St. Jarre, who coaches the Massabesic High School varsity girls, who were playing against Scarborough High School.
"We pulled the players off the field and took a five minute break and calmed the girls down." ~ Tom Bell, writing in the Portland Press Herald, October 17, 2012.

What surprised me was the explosion of humor on the social media. Here are photographic samples of the "damage" and how people immediately reacted to this earthquake.

An earthquake hit off Japan also on October 16th. But thirty minutes after the Maine earthquake, one hit in New Zealand.


Mark said...

The whole world is slowly--very, very slowly--falling into that Louisiana sinkhole.

Enki said...

I was watching a movie at a theater in Brunswick, Maine when the quake struck, but I did not notice any vibrations.

I have had some strange experiences in Hollis, where the epicenter was located, though. One night several years ago, my band was rehearsing at my bandmate's mother's house in Hollis, and throughout the night we heard terrifying screams coming from the woods out back. The screams came from something that sounded half human and half beast. The material we were rehearsing was of an occult nature, and we speculated that we had conjured something up. I imitated the scream for anyone who would listen for some time after that, and most people had no idea what it could have been, though one woodsman told me it could have been a fisher cat. We jokingly decided it was "The Hollis Yeti."

I was dating a girl who lived up the road at the time, and she said she sometimes heard it too, and that when the creature came around, her dogs would go crazy and "climb the walls." Something even creepier happened a month or so later. My girlfriend had just returned from a weekend trip out of state, and she called me up in a panic. She was sure that someone had been in her house, and she begged me to come over. When I got there, we went through the house room by room. Some pieces of furniture had been rearranged, but nothing appeared to be missing. A bowl of money on a table had not been touched. The most terrifying thing we found was a set of four parallel scratch marks on a wall that went the entire length of an adjacent staircase. The scratches were a few inches apart, and it looked like the work of a giant Freddy Krueger (or maybe a yeti).

I met a girl a short while later who had lived in Hollis he whole life, and I told her about my experiences. I asked her if she had ever had anything weird happen at her place, and she told me that when she was a little girl, sometimes giant hand prints would appear on the walls of her house.

Some paranormal researchers have noticed that high strangeness events, such as poltergeist outbreaks and UFO appearances, are reported near fault lines at a rate higher than the statistical norm, so maybe Hollis' lack of seismic stability is a contributing factor to the events I described. Do you have any weird reports from Hollis in your files, Loren?

Anonymous said...

Today (the 17th) is the anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta quake, which I experienced.

Anonymous said...

I have never been in an earthquake. I didn't feel it because I was in the car. I noticed that I felt very slightly dizzy until I went to bed after the time of the quake. Do you know if that is normal from an earthquake? I thought maybe the ground was still very slightly shaking or something?

To Enki, I live in Mass. so not near any particular faults. But one night I heard something in my wooded back yard. I thought for sure it was a woman screaming like she was being killed or something. But then it stopped. I thought 'O no, someone was just killed in my backyard.' But then it came again. It was so identical to the first time I heard it that I knew it had to be some kind of animal and not a person in distress.

I stupidly went outside with a flashlight and tomahawk to look for it, and I heard what sounded like something large crashing through the underbrush uphill away from me further into the woods. I never found out what it was. One of my friends suggested it might have been a mountain lion.

Jason said...

To Anonymous 9:06,
Yes, it's very normal for you to feel those after-effects post earthquake. Those things really throw off everyone's equilibrium to some degree, especially if you're not used to it. Takes some longer than others to get over it.

Red Pill Junkie said...

Everyone in Mexico ho was alive during the Sept 19th 1985 quake became traumatized for life, and will jump with any type of tremor, no matter how weak.

Anonymous said...

I heard hollis in the 70s was a great hunting area for mountain lions or bobcats and some say that we still have them out here, I ride my horse through the woods all the time during the day and have only seen deer.