By JOSEPH MARTIN
ONE FEATHER STAFF
DECATUR, Tenn. – At about 4:15 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 12 the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recorded an earthquake that registered 4.4 in magnitude. The epicenter was located about seven miles north northeast of Decatur, Tenn., which is about 60 miles north east of Chattanooga, Tenn.
The National Weather Service in Morristown, Tenn. said it was the strongest quake in the state since 1950. Shaking and rattling woke some up, and the effects could be felt throughout east Tennessee, western North Carolina, north Georgia and northeast Alabama. There have been no reports of damage or injuries.
The quake struck close to Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Watts Bar nuclear power plant, but TVA officials have been inspecting Watts Bar and their other nearby facilities and reported no damage. TVA Public Information Officer Jim Hopson said there was never any danger. “It is designed to withstand well into the six-plus range (magnitude). In the event a quake that severe happened, the nuclear facilities are designed to shut down and place themselves in a safe position.
The other TVA facilities, hydro and fossil fuel-burning plants, also weren’t damaged. Power production never stopped. Inspectors checked out all the plants nearby. “They found no issues,” Hopson said.
Telecommunicator with Tribal dispatch Kara Howard came in to work at 6 a.m. that day. “We didn’t get a call-in reference to it at all.”
However, some residents of Cherokee and other tribal lands felt the impacts of the quake. Some were woken by it. Some even reported strange animal behavior. Some didn’t know what was bothering the animals. The USGS reports that animals can be predictors of earthquakes through strange behavior before they take place.
Samuel Barkley, of Whittier, said, “Dogs woke me up barking like crazy around 4 a.m. I didn’t realize why until this morning.”