Reactions to earthquake many and varied

Amish farm Ohio by Bruce Stambaugh
Life in Holmes County, Ohio went back to normal right after the earthquake on August 23.

By Bruce Stambaugh

The reactions to the reverberations of the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that was felt in the Holmes County, Ohio area on August 23 varied according to individual circumstances. The quake was centered near Mineral, Va., but was felt more than 400 miles away.

Many in the area thought they were experiencing a sudden illness. Some weren’t sure what to think. A few knew that the shaking shortly before 2 p.m. was an earthquake. Others, especially those in vehicles, felt nothing at all.

It didn’t take people long to realize that the shaking was much more than something they felt personally. Some figured it out on their own, while others tuned to TV news, received text messages or saw it posted on social media.

Tim Roth, of Millersburg, said he was sitting in his recliner watching the Cleveland Indians baseball game when he felt the chair shake and the house creak. He wasn’t sure what was happening at first.

The press box at Progressive Field in Cleveland swayed east and west for 30 seconds, stopped briefly, and then shook again, but not as long or as hard. Fans in the upper deck sensed the shaking, too, but were reassured by ushers. The baseball game between the Indians and the Seattle Mariners continued uninterrupted.

Greta Monter, of rural Millersburg, was lying on her couch and suddenly felt her heart race. A registered nurse, she at first thought she was having a medical health issue, but then realized it was more than just her heart.

Lora Stackpole Erclauz, of Lakeville, said she felt just a slight shaking. She said at first she thought it was vertigo, called her husband and he had felt it, too.

Rita Baughman-Dawson said she thought a train had wrecked and fell off of the tracks. She said it was a very eerie feeling.

Mike Pacula, the band director at West Holmes Middle School, said he was at his desk in his office and noticed his chair rocking and his computer monitor wobbling.

Karen Reitz Miller was in her home in Millersburg when the windows began to rattle a little and the house creaked. She said it sounded like someone was on her roof. She turned on the TV and learned of the earthquake.

Joe Heatwole, who lives in Dalton, was on the second floor of Valley View Oak near Mt. Hope when he felt the floor begin to shake. Another employee yelled that his computer monitor was shaking and the floor was moving. Heatwole said it was an exhilarating feeling to experience an earthquake for the first time.

Arlene Yoder, a nurse from Baltic, was at the doctor’s office where she works in Dover. Yoder said their patients were relieved to know that the medical staff also felt the floor shake, too.

Dana Ely-Keiffer reported that it felt like someone was shaking the recliner she was in at the Smith Ambulance office in New Philadelphia.

“I accused my partner of it until I realized he was on the other side of the room,” she said. “He was thinking I was shaking him.”

The Commercial and Savings Bank four-story building in Millersburg was evacuated as a precaution. Employees and customers were allowed back in after a brief wait outside.

Across the street at the Holmes County Education Foundation, Anna Patton reported that the window blinds moved back and forth.

Some buildings in Columbus were also evacuated as a precaution.

The Holmes County Sheriff’s Office reported receiving a few calls from around the county about the trembler. No damage was reported.

August is the quiet month

August sunset by Bruce Stambaugh
A typical August susnet in Ohio's Amish country.

By Bruce Stambaugh

I have always thought of August as a transitional month, the days between busy, boisterous July and the revitalizing September.

August is the stepping-stone from summer’s onslaught of activities into a pre-fall mentality. Vacations wind down for most people. It’s back to school and back to work.

If we take time to halt our busyness, our clamor to re-ready ourselves for the new school year at hand, we can take note of this calendar bridge from tilling to harvest, from clamor to order. In its intermediary mode, August seems to quietly take it in stride.

The songbirds no longer need to announce their territory or impress their mate. The young have flown the coop, or more properly stated, the nest, and bird life has returned to seeking daily subsistence. The American Robin precisely models the point.

From April to July, the Robins paired off, warbled their luxurious choruses almost continuously sunup to sundown. They pecked on windows, noisily flitted off their nests when disturbed and faithfully fed their young.

The Robins were ubiquitous in both presence and song. People often comment when they see their first Robin of the spring.

First Robin by Bruce Stambaugh
People often remark when they spot their first Robin of the spring.

Now, in late August, the Robins have all slyly retreated to their preferred nomenclature. They are more than content to while away the day searching for food deep in the recesses of the shade and forest.

Think about it. When was the last time you either heard or saw a robin? They simply and silently slipped away unnoticed.

If they haven’t already, other bird species will soon be disappearing from the area altogether. The Purple Martins, Barn Swallows and Common Nighthawks all heed their interior instinctive urgings and vanish unseen much like the Robin. We under-appreciate their massive consumption of insect protein until it’s too late to thank them.

Just as quietly, the multiple greens of fields and pastures have grown taller, richer. Chameleon-like, they have morphed into emeralds, tans and russets with hardly a rustle.

August harvest colors by Bruce Stambaugh
The colors of August change from day to day.

Farmers have taken in their wheat and most of their oats matter-of-factly, and now tolerantly wait the drying of the later cash crops, corn and soybeans. There is no mechanized clanking in patience.

Song Sparrow by Bruce Stambaugh
A Song Sparrow sings away.
The Song Sparrow still belts out an occasional composition, but nothing as regular as it had been earlier in the season. The House Wrens, once so noisy they approached annoyance, have taken to the underbrush, giving their last brood endurance lessons.

August’s atmosphere also has been quieter than the previous months, save for a couple of late night thunderstorms. The brilliant flashes and deep, rolling booms shattered my sleep like Civil War cannon fire might have. Midnight imaginations run wild when deafeningly jolted.

The few sounds of August we can count on are more monotonous and so commonplace we may not even notice their calls. Cicadas and crickets signal day and night. With windows thrown open to catch the unusual August twilight coolness, the insect symphony has helped humans settle in for sound sleeping.

Every now and then a ranging coyote howls from atop the neighbor’s pastured hill, if for no other reason than to drive the tethered neighborhood canines crazy. The feral call is one thing. The domesticated is another.

Now that school years in most locales begin well ahead of September, the playful echoes of children rollicking at recess again fill the air. It’s a timbre I love to hear over and over again, even if it does break August’s amazing silent spell.
Amish school by Bruce Stambaugh

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