Was it a helicopter? The dog? Southerners confused by rare Tennessee earthquake

Posted at 10:06 AM, Dec 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-12 12:22:24-05

Was it a falling tree? A freight train? The Second Coming?

When Southerners were jolted awake early Wednesday morning by a rare 4.4-magnitude earthquake, many had no idea what it was.

Most people in the South aren’t used to such things. So the quake, centered in southeastern Tennessee and followed soon after by a smaller one, created some sleepy, middle-of-the-night confusion.

“We just thought it was a child climbing up into the bed,” said Mary Margaret Lewis of Atlanta, some 150 miles away. “No big deal until we realized no child.”

One Twitter user near the epicenter in Decatur, Tennessee, thought it was a tree falling on the trailers around her.

Another Tennessee resident, Mariea Hoy, wrote on Twitter that she thought it was a low-flying helicopter.

There were no immediate reports of major damage from the earthquake, which struck at 4:14 a.m. ET. A second, 3.3-magnitude temblor followed at 4:27 a.m.

The first temblor was the second-strongest quake on record in east Tennessee, according to the local National Weather Service.

On Twitter, Cindy Loheide of suburban Atlanta said she thought her dog was shaking the bed.

Another resident thought it was an intruder in the attic. Another said he even grabbed his gun.

Some people even likened it to a religious experience. A listener to WSB radio in Atlanta said he thought it was the baby Jesus arriving, and some on Twitter said they thought it was the Second Coming.

One Georgia resident wondered if the shaking simply came from his plumbing.

“Went and flushed the toilet and my entire house started shaking,” said Nathan Larsen on Twitter. “Turns out it was actually an #earthquake and not my toilet finally collapsing into a black hole.”