February 28, 2001 – Big news if you lived in Seattle this day – an earthquake measuring 6.8 rattled through the Northwest cutting a wide swath of destruction, particularly in Downtown Seattle, the worst hit since 1993. It lasted no more than 30 seconds, but it was a powerful jolt injuring some 2 dozen people, four of them critically. The quake was felt from Canada to Salt Lake City, Utah. The epicenter was located some 35 miles southwest of Seattle. Thousands lost power and phone service was disrupted and Seattle-Tacoma airport was temporarily closed when the control tower had to be evacuated; its windows had shattered. Rough damage estimates put it in the billions.
Members of Congress and the Financial markets were forced to read between the lines as Alan Greenspan spoke on Capitol Hill earlier in the day. He noted the economy appeared to be on track well below the activity-enhanced rate of growth of its potential. The Fed Chairman also said the U.S. was out on a path inconsistent with satisfactory performance. The comments were taken as a strong hint the Fed was going to cut interest rates again – but when was the question, as the next meeting wasn’t scheduled until March 20th and Wall Street was impatient – the Dow plunged 121 points this day – the NASDAQ lost 55
And the Foot And Mouth Disease scare was spreading to Europe. The French government ordered the slaughter of some 50,000 sheep in an effort to forestall an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease. The highly contagious disease had hit several farms across Britain. European countries were taking drastic precautions to prevent it spreading to the Continent. This latest in a seemingly endless series of food disasters hit at the worst possible time for Sheep farmers. The upcoming Monday was a Muslim holiday where every family was supposed to slaughter a sheep. In France, where there is a large Muslim population – as much as a quarter of the yearly output of sheep are sold during this period. Although no trace of Foot and Mouth Disease has been detected, but sheep imported recently from Britain had antibodies for it in their blood. So those sheep and any they have come in contact with were being slaughtered.
And that’s just a little of what went on, this last day of February in 2001 as reported by The CBS World News Roundup Late Edition And NPR All Things Considered News.