SPARTA, N.C. — The mayor of Sparta, Wes Brinegar, issued a state of emergency on Sunday after a 5.1. earthquake that was felt across North Carolina rattled the town.
The state of emergency was declared at 3:30 p.m. No injuries have been reported.
The mayor says there is widespread minor damage to homes with structures and chimneys being knocked off.
He has been visiting homes and businesses throughout the day.
Many local business in Sparta are closed because of damage caused by the earthquake.
The town was under construction at the time the earthquake hit.
A streetscape project has been under construction for a year now. The mayor says if the 100 year-old waterline was still in the ground, it would have been disastrous.
Three homes made of rock were damaged, and the three families living in the homes had to be relocated because the homes are no longer safe to live in after the earthquake moved them off the foundation by four to six inches.
Sparta has felt up to 11 shakes since yesterday with four of them registering over 2.6 magnitude.
There have also been six to seven minor shakes throughout Allegheny County this afternoon.
The mayor says the town is “not out of the woods yet.”
A photo gallery showing the damage caused by the earthquake in North Carolina is provided below:
The earthquake was centered 54 miles northwest of Winston-Salem and happened at 8:07 a.m., according to the official USGS report.
Many who felt the earthquake said it lasted 10-15 seconds. Sunday’s 5.1 earthquake is the strongest earthquake to happen in North Carolina since 1916.
A viewer in Pfafftown told us, “Around 8 a.m. this morning, our bedroom shook. We thought a tree had fallen but then heard it was an earthquake.”
Experts with the United States Geological Survey are telling people to “be ready for more earthquakes” since aftershocks will continue near the mainshock.
“The USGS advises everyone to be aware of the possibility of aftershocks, especially when in or around vulnerable structures such as unreinforced masonry buildings,” the website reads.
Throughout next week, there is a 4 percent chance that one or more aftershocks will be larger than magnitude 5.1, according to the USGS forecast.
Smaller earthquakes are more likely through next week.
The chance of a magnitude 3 or higher earthquake is 56 percent.
Magnitude 3 and above are large enough to be felt near the epicenter. The number of aftershocks will drop off over time, but a large aftershock can increase the numbers again, temporarily.
USGS experts say this earthquake could be part of a sequence.
“An earthquake sequence may have larger and potentially damaging earthquakes in the future, so remember to: Drop, Cover, and Hold on,” the website reads.