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Mysteries of the Great Quake of 2020 / August 10, 2020
People woke up Sunday morning to a surprising rumble — leading some to wonder if something in the attic had come loose, or pets were misbehaving. It turned out to be the vibrations of an earthquake centered near Sparta, N.C, northwest of Winston-Salem. Many turned to social media for quick answers.

The reactions and initial interpretations poured in:

“We were sitting on a sofa and felt the vibration. Thought it was the washing machine changing cycles until I saw on Facebook everyone else felt the same thing we did,” said Sandi Snow.

Her household also wondered if the laundry might be to blame, said Angela Yancey, operations manager at The Prizery: “My husband (Joel) told me to go and check the washing machine,” she said. From the sound and feel, it felt “like the [load of] clothes was unbalanced.”

“I didn’t feel it, but my husband did. He asked me why the earth was shaking as I walked across the floor,” said Robin Fitts.

HCHS English teacher Beth Layne: “I was in bed having a bad school dream. Most teachers have them before school starts. I dreamed I was in a bathroom at school with about three inches of filthy water on the floor. I was supposed to be giving a test, but I couldn’t find the right room. When I finally found the room, I couldn’t find the test. There were science teachers in there teaching physics. Then, I felt my legs trembling and woke up. I thought something was happening with my body. I looked at the clock, and it was 8:11. I felt a second tremor and realized it was an earthquake, of course. After all, it’s 2020. I am expecting a storm of frogs next. I read Revelations to check on what’s coming next,” she quipped.

Near the Seven Oaks neighborhood off Bill Tuck Highway, Suzanne Blanton thought it was her cat trying to climb into her bed. “Just went back to bed after I couldn’t find the cat. Didn’t know what had happened until seeing it on Facebook after I finally got out of bed,” she said.

A couple celebrating at the Charles Bass House Bed & Breakfast posted, “The earth moved in South Boston, VA for our fifteenth anniversary,” wrote Ginna Estes on social media.

Others found an earthquake to be just one more oddity in a thoroughly unpredictable year.

“I was at home, reading a book and drinking coffee when my everything began to shake. I initially thought, there’s no way this is an earthquake .... I live in Virginia. Ten to fifteen minutes later I hopped on Facebook and the posts had been flooding about it. I wasn’t scared; I honestly didn’t know what to make of it. If it had been any more severe, I would likely have a different statement for you. I’ve also come to accept the saying ‘expect the unexpected,’ and have tried to be as open and flexible to ALL that is/has and will go on in the world,” said Kristen Zerbato, executive director of the South Boston Halifax County YMCA.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported the quake struck at 8:07 a.m. and registered 5.1 on the Richter scale. The tremors were felt as far south as Augusta, Ga., and as far north as Staunton. No damage was reported locally.

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