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Summerville Earthquake, a reminder of earthquakes past

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Summerville earthquake a reminder of earthquakes past

Over the last 20 years, earthquakes have been common in the Summerville area, thankfully the quakes have created only minor damage.

It was around 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13, that the 2.1 magnitude earthquake was recorded. It was a shake-up that took place in northeast Summerville, neighboring the Berkley and Dorchester county border, and largely went unnoticed by locals.

Generally earthquakes that are less than a magnitude 3.0 are not felt, explained Mario Formisano, Dorchester County Director of Emergency Management.

However, there have been approximately 50 reports of residents who said they felt its effects, according to the United States Geological Survey. Still, there remains no reports of injury or damage.

The very nature of earthquakes are completely unpredictable, which is why members of the Dorchester County Emergency Management Department have exercised earthquake preparedness scenarios multiple times throughout the past decade.

Formisano said that because of the counties positioning along the seismic zone, a mitigation plan has been put in place, identifying earthquakes as a major natural hazard for the area. This plan outlines mitigation strategies developed to reduce impacts in the case of a more severe quake.

Many new residents move to the area unaware of the local seismic zone. Formaisano pointed out that while some residents will opt to pick up an earthquake insurance policy, many gamble on avoiding experiencing a major earthquake in their lifetime.

Though records indicate that the last several earthquakes have registered at magnitudes low enough for there to be little to no impact, the area is not unaccustomed to facing a quake of larger volume.

With a magnitude of 7.3, the historical Charleston earthquake of 1886 led to economic losses of approximately $23 million dollars and at least 60 deaths all within the first moments of its impact, according to a report by the USGS.

Additionally, within 10 minutes, the effects of the quake were reported to have been experienced in places as far away as New York, Missouri and Illinois.

Over the next 30 years, the USGS reported that more than 400 aftershocks were felt in the surrounding Charleston area, contributing to additional wreckage.

Today, the risk remains of a natural disaster that equates to the historical earthquake of 1886.

“The risk has and will always exist for a major earthquake in our area,” Formaisano said. “That combined with the unpredictability of earthquakes is a reminder for residents and business to always be prepared.”