Q&A: How earthquake 'swarms' are rocking a sleepy N.B. village

MCADAM, N.B. -- The normally peaceful village of McAdam, N.B., has been rattled by some 30 earthquakes this month, leaving its residents frightened and bewildered.

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Many areas commonly have small quakes, but their sudden frequency in McAdam has prompted seismologists to install equipment in hopes of solving the mystery.

Canadian Press reporter Melanie Patten spoke Thursday with deputy mayor Greg Swim about the shakeups.

CP: What can you tell me about what's been going on?

Swim: At the beginning of the month, we started having some tremors or earthquakes -- I guess they call them swarms. Quite loud ones actually, and very frequent. You know, one after another. Tremors, shaking. A lot of people on edge. In 2012, we had similar that lasted for, I believe, about eight months or something like that. But these ones, they're an explosion.

CP: How long are those tremors lasting?

Swim: Just for a few seconds.

CP: And what's going through your mind during those few seconds?

Swim: Well, the little ones doesn't seem to bother too much but the louder ones, you think, 'Wow. What is going on?' You're a little nervous not knowing what to expect. We've been told they're probably nothing to worry about. They're swarms, they're close to the surface. But when you get a loud bang like that, it jars you. It jars your nerves, definitely.

CP: You said they're described as swarms.

Swim: Swarms means you get a big one and maybe two big ones and then a few aftershocks after that.

CP: How many earthquakes have you had recently?

Swim: In the last few days, I think we've had close to 30. And significant ones: 3.3 was, I think, our highest recorded in the village.

CP: Has anyone been hurt?

Swim: No one has been hurt.

CP: In a case like that, a 3.3, what would be happening, say, to the inside of your home?

Swim: My home, we had pictures turn sideways, which was minor. But there's been other places where ornaments have come off shelves, off the wall. Even a broken window in one home. And another home where a stereo system was knocked off a shelf. We have a lot of seniors here and it scares them and rightfully so. And not only seniors. I've spoken with younger people who are bit nervous about them, too. There's four seismographs being installed in the village to get a better handle on what's going on. It's Mother Nature -- you can't stop the earthquakes, but we need to do our due diligence. Never say nothing major can't happen. We don't anticipate that at all but this is part of preparedness. We've sent out bulletins in our community, explaining to people what to do. Stop, drop and cover.

CP: Those are the main things to remember?

Swim: And to remain in your home. From what we've been told, it's the safest place you can be in an earthquake. Make sure you're covered and hold on.

CP: How does it make you feel, not knowing what the reason is and not knowing when the next one might hit?

Swim: I work nights and I sleep very solid so I don't hear them. My wife has said when I got up, 'I don't know how you slept through that.' When I get up, I say, 'Was there any today?' I'm not scared but I'm nervous. I've lived in this community all my life. I don't think we're going to get the Big One, but you can never say never.


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