Mother Nature Speaks: August 24, 2011

And Sends Jitters Through Valley

By Sarah Brubeck and John P. Gregg
Valley News Staff Writers

Lebanon — Yesterday’s big earthquake may have been centered nearly 600 miles away in Virginia, but it shook an art gallery, sloshed standing water and rattled residents throughout the Upper Valley.

Norwich resident Nichole Hastings was visiting a friend with a third-floor studio in the AVA Gallery in downtown Lebanon yesterday when glass jewelry cases started rattling and the mirror started swinging back and forth.

“It was amazing,” said Hastings, who said it lasted between 30 and 50 seconds. “I was sitting in a chair and I just felt the building moving, and I started seeing objects around the room reacting and moving as well, like swaying.”

George Loveland was sitting in his Norwich home — the Butternut Lane Bed and Breakfast not far from Interstate 91 on a bluff overlooking the Connecticut River — when things started rocking

“There was a cyclical sound, almost like it was a wheel, but elliptical,” he said. “I looked out the window, and the water was slopping out of the birdbath. I stood up, and thought I was dizzy, but I wasn’t. The house was moving.”

Nicky Corrao felt the quake on her home on Tucker Hill Road in Thetford Center.

“I was sitting at my kitchen table eating lunch, and all of a sudden I felt my house start shaking. All my plants, the leaves were shaking back and forth, and I thought, Oh my gosh, it’s an earthquake,” said Corrao, who went outside as a precaution.

Tim Savage, a sales representative at Young’s Propane in Springfield, Vt., said he and several office mates felt the temblor at Springfield Plaza, and it reminded him of an amusement park ride.

“They told me to sit down. The whole chair was shaking back and forth,” he said. “There was a rumbling — it felt like being on a ride at Six Flags.”

Over in Canaan, Andrew Musz said he watched as the plants in his office, which is in the old post office building, swayed back and forth for several seconds. Once the wooden building stopped moving, he quickly went online to see what happened.

“It felt like we had a really strong gust of wind,” Musz said. “If it would have continued, it would have been nauseating.”

Officials in Hartford, Lebanon and Hanover didn’t receive any calls reporting damage, but it was felt at Centerra office and shopping park, the Dartmouth College campus and in the five-story main building of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

“There was no damage, no evacuations, no disruptions in service, but people did feel and report the shaking,” said DHMC spokesman Rick Adams.

Eric Hartling, owner of Tuckerbox in White River Junction, had just finished serving the lunch hour crowd when he felt the quake in the cafe’s basement. He saw the lights hanging from the ceiling swing back and forth and noticed his coffee cup move.

“It got a little stronger and a little longer,” Hartling said. “It lasted about 30 seconds, which was long enough for me to grab my keys and phone and say ‘I’m out of this basement.’ ”

When Hartling went upstairs, he asked his employees if they felt the building shake, but nobody had. Others accused him of being crazy or drinking too much coffee that morning.

In Claremont, Rae Schmertz was sitting at a table in the library of Stevens High School with a few other teachers when the table began to shake. At first she thought someone was just kicking the table. Pretty soon, she was swaying in her chair.

“It was gentle but significant. It was a gradual build and then it subsided,” said Schmertz, a Lebanon resident.

Down at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, Vt., Entergy spokesman Larry Smith said the plant was “unaffected by the earthquake.”

“The plant’s seismic monitor did not have any indication. The plant continues to operate normally,” Smith said in an email.

John P. Gregg can be reached at Sarah Brubeck can be reached at



Valley News: And Sends Jitters Through Valley