Near the epicenter: Earthquake shakes the homes of many Kaneland students, teachers

By on February 19, 2010

by Mel Mazuc
Kaneland Krier
Executive Editor

At approximately 4 a.m. on Feb. 10, an earthquake struck northern Illinois with a magnitude of 3.8.

According to Catherine Puckett of the U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake Information Center, there have been no aftershocks, but the USGS has estimated that about 11 million people in the area reported feeling at least mild shaking.

The earthquake occurred on the New Madrid fault line and could be felt in the neighboring states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa.

Damage from that magnitude earthquake could include cracks in walls and items falling off of shelves, Puckett said.

“The damage is light,” she said.

Many Kaneland students and staff members were awakened by the earthquake, or were already awake when it happened.

“I thought it was wind blowing my apartment building,” PE teacher Kate Kania said. “It felt like my apartment building was going to fall down. I texted my sister to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. It was one of those things where you didn’t know if it was really happening or not.”

Though Kania said there were no signs that the earthquake shook her house, she said, “My jewelry box has necklaces hanging in it, and I could hear it shake. It was freaky.”

The earthquake startled Javier Martinez, social studies teacher.

“I jumped out of bed and ran to the door,” he said. “I thought a tree might have fallen in the yard.”

Earthquakes are “rare in Illinois,” Puckett said. “The last earthquake was on June 28, 2004, with a magnitude of 4.2. It was 35 miles south of this earthquake.”

Puckett said that earthquakes are more common in southern Illinois because it is nearer to the New Madrid fault area.

The earthquake was caused by “the movement of tectonic plates,” science teacher Sally Wilson said.

Wilson was already awake when it happened, and thought “it was just really windy because the whole house was shaking,” she said. “Then there was almost a boom, and some more shaking. There was some movement on the shelves around me. I stopped for a second and wondered if I should be worried because I have small children. I stopped, but then I went back to reading.”

Aftershocks to earthquakes are “generally smaller earthquakes,” Puckett said. “They’re further apart.”

Because they are generally smaller, the aftershocks would cause less, if any, damage.

“I thought (the earthquake) was a wind wave,” freshman Tricia Selmer said. “I feel bad for California people. They get one, like, every day.”

The Kaneland Krier submitted this story to the Elburn Herald on Feb. 10. Contributing writers include: Julia Angelotti, Kylie Siebert, Hannah Dewar, Noelle Goodine, Denitza Koleva, Lauren Companiott, Emily Carr, and Diana Nuno.