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By LINDSAY OLIVIER
NORTH KINGSTOWN â€“ â€śDid you feel it?â€ť Thatâ€™s the question residents up and down the East Coast were asking each other Tuesday afternoon.
Though many around Rhode Island felt vibrations from the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Virginia, no damage was reported.
Still, the event has left many in the Ocean State wondering if they would be prepared for a natural disaster, whether itâ€™s an earthquake like Tuesdayâ€™s or a potential hurricane, like the one that is projected to make landfall this weekend.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), Virginia and the eastern side of the United States are in the middle of the North American Tectonic Plate.
On June 11, 1638, an earthquake near Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada, was felt throughout New England, including a â€śviolentâ€ť shock in the Narragansett Bay area of the state. A magnitude 5.2 earthquake hit western Maine on June 14, 1973 and was felt as south as Charlestown.
The USGS most recently recorded a 1.8 magnitude earthquake five miles east of Hartford, Conn., on June 3 at 12:46 a.m. No damage was reported.
But, if Rhode Island finds itself in the middle of an earthquake, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says if inside, drop to the ground, take cover and hold on and, if outside, stay there and move away from buildings.
North Kingstown Town Manager Michael Embury said Monday that the town would address an earthquake and a hurricane as any other emergency situation.
The townâ€™s response team would assemble at the emergency operation center (EOC) located at the public safety building at 8150 Post Road. Teams would then begin responding to reported areas of town to assess damage. Notification would go out, via the Code Red system, for anyone with damage to call the emergency numbers to report problems.
â€śIf warranted, emergency personnel not on duty would be recalled for duty and we would move forward from there as the situation required,â€ť added Embury.
As for the possibility of getting hit by Hurricane Irene this weekend, as of press time it was still too soon to tell if Rhode Island will be directly impacted, but Exeter EMA Director Stefan Coutoulakis prepared an email Tuesday entitled Hurricane 101: aka Hurricane Preparedness for dummies.
Included in this â€śgo toâ€ť document, sent out as part of Coutoulakisâ€™ regular inclement weather alters, is the definition of a hurricane, information about evacuation; information about water, food and first aid; information on protecting your home and more.
Coutoulakis suggests filling up the family car with gas within 48 hours of the stormâ€™s arrival, and reminds residents to make sure they donâ€™t forget to stock flashlights, extra batteries and a portable radio.
If youâ€™re an Exeter resident and need assistance or more information contact Exeter Communications at 295-3170 or Exeter EMA at 241-5600. If youâ€™d like to subscribe to Coutoulakisâ€™s emails, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Kingstown residents can contact EMA director David Murray by visiting the townâ€™s website (http://www.northkingstown.org) for important phone numbers and emergency information.