Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Experiencing My First Earth Quake...

Going down to Menominee, MI to see the crack was taking a chance. I wasn't able to call the land owner and didn't really know where I was going. I was following a Google Map I had copied off my computer, which by the way will get you to the general area you want to go.. I finally knew I was close when I saw this field blocked off with little signs that said private property. Off in the distance there was orange tape on stakes.

I went to the house of Eileen Heider, just hoping she was home and willing to go on video. The older woman about 60 opened the door, she looked as though she was tired from all the people coming to see her. I asked if it was possible to see the crack in the ground. She said asked who I was with, when I said I do CNN I-Reporting she was more than happy to show me the property. She said she would meet me outside in a few minutes.

She came outside and went to her golf cart, said she would meet me down at the site just off the road. I drove down to where we could see the fenced off area. She slowly made her way down, her cart had seen it's days. As she got to me she spoke a little bit more. I could tell she was being a little careful, she really didn't know me as we were going into the woods. I spoke with her a little more explaining that I have been doing CNN I-Reporting for about a year. Almost 300,000 views on my videos with close to 100 being on the air. Her eyes got really big. She said she thought I said I was only going to shoot pictures, she was concerned about the way she looked.

I assured her that she looked fine, that I only had a small chance that she would make it on the air. I only have a 20% chance for my stories to get on the air waves of CNN. I kind of knew this story had a really good chance, but I didn't need to add any more pressure onto a woman who had been on local TV channels already. She offered me a seat on her cart and we rode off towards the spot I had been looking at off the road. She talked on the way about how it isn't everyday you can see something like this, she was right.

As she told me the story, you could see the excitement in her eyes as she relived the experience of her chair vibrating, almost a shake. She spoke about being confused about what had happened, she had heard the "Boom" first but the chair moving had caught her attention more. She remembers looking around the house to see if something had fallen off. A neighbor down the road thought he had heard thunder but when he looked outside it was clear and sunny. Another neighbor heard the boom and felt his washer shake, he was leaning on it and it wasn't on. She was almost trying to reassure herself that it had actually happened.

She showed me where the crack had begun on top of this newly formed ridge. This new hill was about 30 foot across and came to a point of 5 foot higher than the original land surface. It was amazing to see this large crack that was splitting the earth right on top of the new hill. The crack ran in generally a straight line through some trees and into a swamp off in the distance. The trees as we got closer, were pitching away from the crack. They were torn away from each other, showing off the powerful strength of Mother Earth.

She took me to where a tree had fallen, they had it cut up and were planning to burn it later in the winter. They had stacked the wood up in a stack 4 ft high on a flat piece of land. When they returned 2 days later they discovered the wood was on a hill, some of the wood had fallen from where it originally was... They were thinking to themselves, "Why did we stack it onto a hill?" They knew they hadn't something had happened. That's when they found the crack that would change their life in a week.

She was being extra careful as we ventured out into the woods, asking me to stay on this side of the crack. Even though I knew I could jump across and keep myself safe, I respected her wishes.. We walked to the end of the woods, the crack varied in size all the way through. In the swamp there appeared to be some smaller cracks a few inches wide. Back into the woods you could see where the ground had come up the 5 feet, the crack was about 2 foot across in the middle of the wooded area. Where it was 2 ft across is where it was 5 foot deep. We talked about how people had said this was a sink hole, but we both agreed sink holes go down, not up like this had done. I asked about possible mines in the area but she said there were none. She was concerned that this could happen under her house next time, she wished she knew what had caused the ground to rise in this manner.

I guess now we know what had caused this, Upper Michigan had experienced one of their first Earth Quakes.. Now the question arises of if there are more in our future and where they might happen. Parts of Wisconsin are connected to the New Madrid Fault line. Is there northern routes that might lead to this area? Looking at the Ground Motion for northern WI I saw there was quite a lot of movement last week after this quake had occurred. I guess we never really thought about having to prepare for earth quakes in Upper Michigan but this goes to show where they can happen. Maybe we should prepare ourselves just in case something did happen. Another small quake like this could disrupt life as we know it today, slicing through fiber optic, gas, water and even power. How prepared are you? I know we aren't but I think we may be looking into some things we can get to better prepare ourselves.

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