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Phone systems flooded by anxious residents

Published August 24. 2011 05:02PM

The earth moved in over 29 states across the East Coast Tuesday afternoon as a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck in Mineral, Va.

The reason for the widespread quake, officials are reporting, is due to the hard coal-based rock that makes up the Appalachian Mountain Range.

In Carbon County, telephone systems were flooded as reports of the activity spread across the region, causing cell phone and land lines to get jammed up temporarily in some areas because of the high volume of calls being made.

At the TIMES NEWS, readers called the Lehighton office shortly after the 1:51 p.m. earthquake struck, telling reporters about their "was that really what I just felt" experiences and searching for answers.

Gary Williams, 911 manager at the Carbon County Communications Center in Nesquehoning, said that the center was swamped with callers calling to report the seismic activity. The amount of calls died down though as reports of the quake spread across television stations and on the Internet.

He noted that by 3 p.m., the phone lines were up and running normally and that no large-scale damage was reported in the county.

Lisa Johnson, vice president of Public Relations and Marketing at Blue Mountain Health System, said that the tremor was felt at both hospital campuses in Lehighton and Palmerton, but there was no disruption of any services to patients.

Mark Nalesnik, Carbon County Emergency Management Agency coordinator, said that even though this was not a large earthquake in Pennsylvania, residents should still be prepared in the event a larger one hits the region.

"People should have an emergency evacuation plan for their homes and an emergency kit," he said, adding that residents should also get involved in the CERT program, because that team focuses on how to handle emergency situations.

No businesses in the county have reported that they evacuated as a result of the earthquake, but some businesses in the Lehigh Valley, as well as government offices in the Capitol in Harrisburg were evacuated as a safety precaution.

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