By Bob Weaver August, 2011

While residents of Calhoun and most of central West Virginia are at low risk of most natural disasters that plaque many parts of the USA, occasionally we have a hint.

Residents from across Calhoun have reported experiencing the tremors from an earthquake that struck Virginia near Richmond about 2 p.m. today.

The 5.9 quake was well-felt in West Virginia and much of the eastern seaboard, with buildings in Charleston and the nation's capitol evacuated.

The last time the region rattled like this was likely in 1897, another Virginia quake.

"I was really scared to death," said Carol Pritt on Milo Road. "I thought my TV was going to shake off the stand, it was cracking and shaking. My whole house shook," she said.

Calhoun Sheriff Allen Parsons said, "I realized pretty quick it was from an earthquake," coming into the county courthouse in Grantsville. He said "The computer on my desk was shaking and I could feel the tremors on my feet." Some workers in the courthouse went outside.

Genie Bailey on Walker Road said she was sitting on a porch when her chair started shaking. "The roof started cracking, like someone was walking on the roof," she said.

Calhoun Librarian Amy Cooper was outside the library when the tremors hit. "A car next to me started shaking and moving, with its radio antenna wobbling."

"I was leaning against my truck, which was shaking," she said.

Angela Dye from Norman Ridge said, "My son was in his room in his computer chair and his chair shook along with the door of his closet, shaking and bumping against the window facing."

Maureen Wright from Joker said, "My house shook for a few seconds about 1:50. I was on the phone with my daughter in NY and her apartment building was swaying."

Terry Hickman in the State Farm Insurance office in Grantsville said, "Sitting at my desk it felt like the floor was moving. It was a strange feeling."

Norma Knotts Shaffer, Associate Editor of the Hur Herald, was sitting in her recliner in Grantsville when it started shaking and rocking back and forth. "I first heard the siding on the house cracking," she said.

A number of Herald readers from out of the area e-mailed, including Juanita Lockhart in Parkersburg, who said, "I thought I was dizzy, a little bit of motion sickness."

The Calhoun paper reported the 1897 shock from the Virginia quake.

"An earthquake shock was very perceptibly felt here last Monday. A general inquiry, "Did you feel the shock?" went the rounds."

"The shaking the earth got the other day reminds us that we are liable to be swallowed up any time," the account concluded.

West Virginia Geological Survey Senior Research Senior Geologist Ron McDowell says Virginia's earthquake in 1897 measured an estimated 5.9 on the Richter scale.

McDowell told state media the central part of Virginia is actually crisscrossed with a series of five major faults that run from the northeast to the southwest all across the state. He says they are old faults, not linked to drilling or storage of natural gas.

Last year, a half dozen or more mini-quakes struck Braxton County.