Published: 00:01, 28 April 2017
by Victoria Chessum and Matt Leclere
Today marks a decade since Folkestone shook during an earthquake that startled people awake.
On Saturday, April 28, 2007 just before 8.20am, the ground rumbled due to a quake that registered a magnitude of 4.3.
Folkestone and the surrounding villages were the main areas affected but the tremors were also felt in the Dover, Ashford and Canterbury areas.
The epicentre was believed to be less than 1km east of the Folkestone coast.
Blackbull Road and Canterbury Road in Folkestone were said to be the worst affected by fallen debris, which was mostly chimney stacks and pots.
Height vehicles from Kent Fire and Rescue were sent out to secure properties, officers were patrolling the streets and the ambulance crews responded.
The work to secure homes lasted weeks.
Windows of parked cars were smashed in some places but despite such an unexpected act of nature, no official injuries were reported.
More people were on foot and were walking to friends and neighbours’ houses to hear their experiences and to make sure they were okay.
The usually busy Blackbull Road was used as a meeting point for the media and emergency services. Those people whose homes sustained the worst damage were evacuated and had to take shelter at the Salvation Army in Canterbury Road.
Rob Sherwood, the station manager, said he was minutes from coming off duty when the rumble shook his home in Grange Road, Cheriton.
He had been on-call the day before but headed to the Park Farm Road station where his men had already got 50 yards along to nearby Pavilion Road – one of the worst hit areas.
Mr Sherwood, who was 38 at the time, said: “I felt the shudder and it was as if a lorry had hit the side of the terrace houses where I was living in Grange Road.
“We were inundated with calls, so it was clear that something major had happened.
“They [the crew] had been stopped 50 yards by the first person who flagged them down.”
Steve Appleton, who lives in Canterbury, said he felt the tremor and saw from the news that an earthquake had struck.
Although he was based in Dartford as a station commander, he was called to respond and ended up working three shifts on the weekend in Folkestone.
Mr Appleton, who was 33 at the time, said: “Over the course of that weekend I visited hundreds of properties, but it was a case of reassuring the occupants and referring them to tradesmen.
“I could tell that communities had come together, everyone was understanding."
Insurers estimate the total cost of the damage was in the region of £10 million.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said the exact cost of the damage to 1,300 homes affected was not known as the data was not held at the time of the earthquake.
Scientists studying the seismic activity around Britain were caught off guard as David Booth, of the British Geological Survey (BGS), revealed they did not expect Folkestone to be an area prone to an earthquake.
Earthquakes are almost impossible to predict even in areas most at risk such as Japan and California, let alone along the Kent coast.
Brian Baptie, from the BGS, told our sister paper the Folkestone & Hythe Express this week: “It is not possible to predict earthquakes.
“Despite huge efforts and great advances in our understanding of earthquakes, there are no good examples of an earthquake being successfully predicted in terms of where, when and how big.
“The earthquake is notable as it resulted in power outages, transport disruptions and localised damage of a severity not seen in the UK in at least 50 years.
“It was the first occasion in the UK in modern times in which a local authority was obliged to institute emergency procedures and evacuate damaged buildings because of the perceived risk to the public because of an earthquake.
“Kent is not the most seismically active part of Britain."
This week's Folkestone & Hythe Express contains nine pages of special earthquake reports.