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Does New England Have To Worry About A Big Earthquake?

By Todd Gutner, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) – People all across New England are talking about the earthquake. Many people felt it Tuesday night. We don’t have many here so when we do, it’s a big deal. The quake was centered in southern Maine, near Hollis in York County, about 30 miles west of Portland, and was felt all the way to Connecticut. It didn’t do much damage, but we wondered, do we have to worry about a big one hitting us some day?

Lynda Rose was making a YouTube video in her Danvers home when the earth moved. You can see her camera shake and her eyes dart around the room. “My room just started to shake and I looked over and saw my TV and it was crazy shaking. I was scared. I didn’t know what was going on,” she says. Neither did quarterback Tom Brady. “I felt that shortly after I was in bed. What was it, about 7 o’clock?” says Brady. It was 7:12pm to be exact. Here are just a few reactions from people who felt it: “All of a sudden the ground started shaking and we were like, oh my God!,” says one. “It was just strange. It was like, where is this coming from,” says another.

North Reading police even sent out a warning phone call letting residents know what was going on: “Our area has experienced tremors from what the U.S. Geological Survey team is preliminarily reporting as a 4.6 magnitude earthquake,” it said.

At a downgraded 4.0 quake, the damage was mostly minor. “Next thing I know we’re just hearing rumbling and I was just chasing my food down the table,” says Sue Anderson, a Biddeford homeowner.

“Magnitude 4 is a size earthquake that we might have in New England every 10 or 20 years,” says Dr. Colleen Dalton, who studies earthquakes at Boston University’s Department of Earth and Environment. She says it would take a magnitude 5 or 6 quake before we had widespread damage in New England.

The last time we had a magnitude 6 was off the coast of Cape Ann in 1775. In 1940 a 5.5 hit New Hampshire. Rare, but it could happen again. “The problem is that we can’t say when those will happen precisely. Could it be next year, could it be in 10 years, could it be in 100 years? All those dates are distinct possibilities,” says Dr. Dalton.

Dr. Dalton also tells us a magnitude 6 quake, which is rare here, is fairly common in California. But stronger building codes there can limit damage. In New England, we don’t have that, so the same quake would be worse.

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