Tri-City Ledger -

By Gretchen McPherson
Ledger Staff 

Earthquakes rattle the area


March 14, 2019

The U.S. Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo. has confirmed that three earthquakes happened in the Century, Jay and Flomaton areas over a span of six days, between March 7 and March 13.

The first earthquake happened at 4:45 p.m., Thursday, March 7, about 7 kilometers east southeast of Century and was a 2.7 magnitude.

John Robert Fountain of Pollard said he was home last Wednesday night talking to his wife and watching TV when the first earthquake hit about 10:45 p.m.

“All of a sudden we heard a boom and the entire house shook,” Fountain said noting his house sits on pillars and not a solid foundation. “I told my wife somebody had run into the house with their car.”

Fountain said he grabbed his pistol and a flashlight and walked around his entire property but didn't see anything.

“I told my wife 'I bet we had an earthquake',” Fountain said.

He said the next morning his father called him and said it was all over the news that there had been an earthquake.

“I called my wife and said for once in my life I was right,” Fountain said.

On Monday, March 11, at 6:36 p.m., a second earthquake hit about 5 kilometers east northeast of Flomaton with a magnitude of 3.1. The epicenter was near the intersection of Welka and Old Fannie Roads and showed a larger area on a shakemap due to the higher magnitude.

Andra Polk, who lives on Martin Luther King Drive in Flomaton, said she didn't feel the first earthquake but felt the one that hit Monday.

“I felt a tremble and it started rattling my chair,” she said. “I thought it was an earthquake because I knew how the other one felt.”

The 'other one' she was referring to occurred in Escambia County, Ala., in 1997.

She said the one Monday lasted a few seconds but she felt the house shake.

On Wednesday, March 13, a third earthquake happened east northeast of Flomaton at 1:27 a.m. and was a 2.3 magnitude.

John Bellini with the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center said these earthquakes are not something that indicates anything bad, although it is unusual to have that many in such a short span of time.

“All earthquakes are on a fault somewhere,” said Bellini. “Any area can have small earthquakes. That part of Alabama has been known to have earthquakes in the past. You don't usually see three earthquakes in a week. It is interesting, and people should be made aware, but in general, earthquakes of that size don't cause any damage.”

Bellini said sometimes in small earthquakes the sonic boom people describe hearing and sometimes feeling comes from the building they are in moving or the ground moving, depending on the magnitude of the earthquake.

Do you have earthquake coverage on your homeowners policy? Most don't according to Larry White with Larry White Insurance Agency in Flomaton.

White said standard homeowners insurance doesn't cover earthquake damage, but it can be added as additional coverage. He said in the wake of the three recent earthquakes, White said he's had some inquiries and has given quotes but has not added the coverage to any policies.

He said in 1997 when an earthquake occurred in Little Rock he added earthquake coverage to three or four policies, including his own. He noted earthquake and flood insurance are additional coverage and that flood insurance goes through the National Flood Insurance program.

He did say he received more telephone calls Wednesday about earthquake insurance than he received back in 1997.

White said adding earthquake insurance adds about $120 to $200 per year to the policy with a 5 percent deductible.

“Most people around here don't take the coverage, but it's available,” he said.

He also said most insurance companies will write earthquake insurance and he said as of Wednesday none of the companies he writes for has issued a moratorium to stop adding the coverage. He said in the instance of a hurricane, insurance companies will stop issuing homeowner insurance polices once a storm reaches a certain point in the water.

White did say he has not heard of any damage due to the recent three earthquakes.


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