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Buffalo Has Had Its Share of Earthquakes

(photo by TristanReville@Flickr)

With what happened last year in Japan gives us some modern perspective of what a massive earthquake can do.  But the great San Francisco earthquake happened more than a hundred years ago on this date in 1906. 
It was while most of the city was still asleep.  At close to 8.0 on the Richter scale, the quake shook the city awake early in the morning and immediately killed hundreds of people as it toppled homes and buildings.
Fires broke out all over he city and because broken water mains kept firefighters from battling the fires some areas of the city became infernos.  Three days later, 20,000 refugees trapped by the massive fire were evacuated onto a navy warship.

It took six days to get most of the fires put out, but then began the job of looking for the victims, if any were still alive.  An estimated 3,000 people died, almost 30,000 buildings were destroyed including nearly all the central business district.

Even though they’re rare here in Buffalo and Western New York – we get earthquakes every once in a while.  Most of them are in the 3-point- something range, but it was two years ago when we were struck by a 5.0 on June 23rd, 2010.  It was at 1:41 in the afternoon.  Shelley and I had just laid down to take a nap and the bed started shaking.  Each of us was just getting ready to tell the other to stop shaking the bed when we saw the ceiling fan shaking and realized it was an earthquake.  It lasted about 10 seconds and that was it.  It was a quake that was centered at the Quebec – Ontario border and one of the most severe in this area.

The most severe earthquake in this area was back in 1988 when we were hit by a 6.0 – a quake that was felt from Canada all the way to Washington, DC.

The one in Japan two years ago measured 8.9 on the Richter scale.  The most severe in history was a 9.5 in 1961 in Chile.  It killed nearly 4500 people and left 2-million homeless.


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