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Earthquake rocks residents from Freedom to Conway

July 01, 2010
FREEDOM — An earthquake surprised people in Freedom and Conway on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 23. They were experiencing a piece of the magnitude 5.0 earthquake that started in Canada on Ontario's border with Quebec.

Freedom resident Frank Almeida was sitting in his house on Pleasant Drive playing games on his laptop computer when the screen began to flicker and his house began to rock for about 20 seconds at around 1:55 p.m. Almeida, 61, who used to live in California, recognized the sensation, which felt like being in a boat.

"It dawned on me that this was an earthquake, so I got out of the house and called 911," said Almeida.

Meanwhile, Liesel Crane had her Kennett Middle School Math Department meeting interrupted when people were shaken in their chairs. At first, Crane said she felt shy about mentioning it because she thought maybe she was the only one to notice the earthquake. It felt as if someone was rocking her chair from behind, she said.

"At first I thought it was a ghost," Crane joked.

Another teacher at the same meeting thought she was experiencing vertigo. Later, they learned that teachers at a science department meeting also felt the quake.

County dispatchers told Almeida they had no information about the earthquake and local police told him the same thing. Even his own wife, who was in Boston at the time, didn't believe him. However, Almeida said his neighbor also felt it. The neighbor was also at home using a computer.

"When I saw it on the news, I felt vindicated," said Almeida, a retired Boston firefighter who has lived in his home in Freedom since 1987.

Back in the early 1980s, Almeida said he experienced a few earthquakes while living in the foothills of California — something he never quite got comfortable with.

"It's a strange sensation," said Almeida.

But his then neighbors were apparently used to it.

"Everything was shaking and they'd say 'yup, it's another earthquake,'" said Almeida.

Interestingly, the birds used to stop chirping and the atmosphere would get quiet when an earthquake was about to strike in California, he said.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, 5.0 magnitude earthquakes are rare east of the Rocky Mountains. Earthquakes of about this size can cause light to moderate damage for tens of miles, but can be felt hundreds of miles away.

The two largest recorded earthquakes in the Western Quebec Seismic Zone were a 6.1 magnitude quake in 1935 and a 6.2 magnitude quake in 1732.

"Earthquakes cause damage in the zone about once a decade," according to the USGS Web site. "Smaller earthquakes are felt three or four times a year."

The Union Leader reported that people as far away as Keene also felt the earthquake.

Information about last week's earthquake can be found at earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsus/Quakes/us2010xwa7.php#summary.

Martin Lord Osman
Littleton Chmber
Varney Smith
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