EARTHQUAKE wakes up Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma

Friday, May 4th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

GREENBRIER, Ark. (AP) _ An earthquake shook people awake in Arkansas and southern Missouri early Friday but did little damage. No injuries were reported.

``Arkansans were shaken, but not stirred,'' said Jim Harris, a spokesman for Gov. Mike Huckabee.

The National Earthquake Information Center said the temblor was centered near Greenbrier, about 35 miles north of Little Rock. It struck at 1:42 a.m. and had a preliminary magnitude of 4.4.

Tina Nelson, a former Californian who moved to Arkansas two years ago, said she was used to earthquakes, but at first mistook this one for a phenomenon more common in her new home state. She said she was awakened at her mother's home in Guy, about 7 miles north of Greenbrier.

``I thought at first it was a tornado,'' she said. ``But being from California, I think it was an earthquake. The windows just rattled like crazy.''

Geneva Anderson, at her job later Friday at the Dollar General Store here, also likened the earthquake to a bit of heavy weather.

``It wasn't no more than like thunder hitting real close,'' she said.

But Danny Leslie, who works at the Greenbrier Supercenter, said the shaking couldn't have been too severe because it failed to wake him.

``If it hadn't been on the news, I wouldn't have heard about it,'' Leslie said. But having learned he was at the center of an earthquake, he said, he inspected his house and found no damage.

Jennifer Gordon, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Emergency Management, said Arkansans should take the quake as a warning.

``This is kind of a gentle reminder that we do get earthquakes in Arkansas and that we have the possibility of having a very large one,'' Gordon said.

The quake was felt as far west as Fort Smith on the Arkansas-Oklahoma border and as far south as Pine Bluff, Gordon said. The National Weather Service said residents in far southern Missouri also felt the quake.

At the Arkansas Nuclear One power plant west of Russellville, about 60 miles west of the epicenter, spokesman Phil Fisher said the tremors weren't strong enough to set off seismic alarms at the plant.

``People outside at the time of the quake did hear a rumble and feel slight vibrations momentarily,'' Fisher said.

The two nuclear reactors at the plant were built to withstand an earthquake far stronger, Fisher said.

Harris said the governor was out of town in Eureka Springs on Thursday night. In Little Rock, state troopers at the Governor's Mansion felt the quake, he said.

``Mostly they felt it shaking,'' he said. ``It got people a little excited.''

Police at the state Capitol checked the building and grounds after the quake. Everything appeared to be fine, a dispatcher said.

Gordon said damage was expected to be minor, although a magnitude 4.4 quake can cause moderate damage. The U.S. Geological Survey said it had received reports of items falling off shelves.

``Grandma's vase probably fell over, but we won't hear about that for weeks,'' Gordon said.

She said most Arkansans likely slept through the temblor as she did _ ``I guess I'm not the princess on the pea'' _ but could wake to find cracks in their plaster or drywall.

Prisoners on the second and third floors of the Faulkner County jail were shaken by the quake, dispatcher Cody Babb said.

Babb said many residents also felt the ground shake.

``I got a hundred or so calls about the earthquake,'' he said.

Babb said some reported pictures falling off walls and broken dishes.

The center was about 100 miles west of where the New Madrid Fault cuts through northeast Arkansas. A series of strong quakes occurred along the New Madrid Fault in 1811-1812. One was so powerful it caused the Mississippi River to flow backward.

Thursday morning, a smaller quake of magnitude 2.5 was centered just north of Mountain Home along the Arkansas-Missouri border. It also was not along the New Madrid Fault.