The Associated Press
BARDWELL, Ky. - An earthquake that rattled western Kentucky and neighboring states early Friday cracked an archway in the Carlisle County Courthouse and briefly shook up the county's top official.
The 4.5 magnitude quake struck shortly before 7:30 a.m. CDT near Blandville in Ballard County, about 25 miles southwest of Paducah, and was felt across portions of the Mississippi River Valley.
The quake cracked sidewalks, rattled pictures off walls and dislodged bricks from buildings. There were no reports of injuries.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake was centered about 6 miles below the surface.
Carlisle County Judge-Executive John Roberts was in his courthouse office, trying to get a head start on his day, when the quake hit.
"It started out as a low rumble and quickly escalated into a deafening roar," he said. "I jumped and ran out of the courthouse as fast as I could go. I've never experienced anything like that in my life. It scared me to death."
. Officials sealed off the courthouse's front door because they feared the cracked archway might collapse, said Donna Laird, the county's emergency management director.
When Tiffany Wildharber arrived for work, her Bardwell beauty salon and floral shop was flooded by a water line break caused by the quake.
"There was probably 2 or 3 inches of water through the whole building," she said.
People pitched in to sop up the water. The quake knocked vases, picture frames and figurines off shelves in the floral shop, causing about $100 in lost merchandise, she said.
Wildharber found out her insurance didn't cover earthquake damage. Her policy does cover water damage, the cause of most of her damage. She said the temblor "makes me thing twice" about getting earthquake coverage.
Wildharber said she hoped to reopen her businesses today.
"I'm stressed out from it all," she said. "But life goes on and you deal with what's dealt to you."
The county's 911 system went down temporarily when it was inundated with calls from residents, she said. The quake also briefly knocked out telephone service for much of the county.
Lorrie Mitchell, who works at a Bardwell grocery store, said the quake "shook some products off of our walls."
Ray Bowman, spokesman for the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management, said he had no reports of injuries.
In Kingston Springs, Tenn., Glenn Remick said he was working on his computer at home when it started shaking.
"I felt it (the quake), then looked and saw things moving around me," Remick said.
The quake was felt as far west as St. Louis' western suburbs, as far north as Alton, Ill., and as far east as Evansville, Ind., according to the Geological Survey. Residents in Arkansas, Tennessee and Alabama also reported feeling the quake.
The temblor struck within the New Madrid Seismic Zone, where earthquake scientists say some of the largest quakes ever in North America struck during 1811 and 1812. The zone includes parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.
A moderate earthquake shook western Kentucky and Indiana last June. That quake's epicenter was 10 miles northwest of Evansville, Ind., and part of the Wabash Valley Fault Zone.
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