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A Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On! (or How I Survived the Great East Coast Mega-Quake)

Updated on July 1, 2017
The Washington National Cathedral suffered damage to one of its pinnacles, which are the highest points in the city of Washington, D.C. during a August 23, 2011 earthquake.
The Washington National Cathedral suffered damage to one of its pinnacles, which are the highest points in the city of Washington, D.C. during a August 23, 2011 earthquake.

Yesterday, I survived my second earthquake. The first earthquake I made it through was a few years ago in Michigan. I believe it was actually centered in Ohio somewhere. I was hanging out with a friend and her dad having a garage sale out in their... well... garage, of course. She said "I think we just had an earthquake." Her dad and I laughed. She said she wasn't joking. We all decided she should probably go lie down. She did but was back in a few minutes to tell us the news said there had indeed just been an earthquake.

Yesterday's quake, however, was a little more intense. I was at work when the building began... how can I put it? Thrumming? Anyway, we all thought it was no big deal as the building does this when certain big trucks drive by on the 70 mph highway a couple hundred of feet from our backdoor. You mostly feel it in the floor. A vibrating sort of hum that carries up into the furniture though at a greatly reduced intensity.

But this time instead of quickly building and then quickly fading as usual, it got worse. Then, the walls start shaking, the earth was quaking, my mind was aching and we started to get worried we might not make it. What if it didn't stop? What if it kept getting stronger until the walls started falling down? What would we do if live wires started dropping from the ruptured ceiling sparking fires and zapping our co-workers? Most important of all, would this get us out of work for the rest of the day?

Before we could answer any of these questions, the shaking stopped, leaving the walls intact and all our co-workers uncooked. We all breathed a sigh of relief and looked hopefully at our bosses who only shook their heads and waved us back to work. So much for a little time to recover from the trauma of our ordeal!

In a few moments we heard the news -- a 5.8 rumbler centered up around Richmond, Virginia that reached as far west as Ohio, down south into South Carolina and north all the way up into Canada. A quake that would be nothing to get excited about out on the West Coast, but here on the East Coast, as we all watched Hurricane Irene out there churning her way to our doorstep for a weekend hurricane party, earthquakes of any consequence were simply unheard of. I mean... the earth frickin' moved!

It turned out that this was the most intense earthquake on the East Coast in more than a half century. The last one of this magnitude was in 1944. Despite the novelty of the trembler making it seem almost cool, it caused between $200 and $300 million in damages! Definitely not cool. Earthquakes are serious business.

A crack was discovered in the top of the Washington Monument after Tuesday's quake rumbled through the Nation's Capitol.
A crack was discovered in the top of the Washington Monument after Tuesday's quake rumbled through the Nation's Capitol.

In an unusual moment of extreme kindness, the powers that be at work allowed us to go on Facebook and Twitter to make sure family and friends had all checked in. The reports were saying no major damage or injury, but I was a little worried all the same for three reasons. First, I have been to Richmond and know they have some pretty tall buildings there. Second, I am not at all sure they planned on earthquakes when they built those buildings. Third, and most importantly, I have a friend up there. So I sent him a message on Facebook.

Eventually I connected with my friend who assured me all of Richmond's buildings were still standing and the quake had been nothing more than a whole lot of shaking and people standing around with blank stares. By the time they figured out it was an earthquake, it was over. Everyone looked at each other afterward as if to say, "Did that really just happen?"

Though not a devastating disaster, Tuesday's quake did cause damage as seen here where a chimney was brought down in Mineral, Virginia -- the quake's epicenter.
Though not a devastating disaster, Tuesday's quake did cause damage as seen here where a chimney was brought down in Mineral, Virginia -- the quake's epicenter.

The scary thing is initial thoughts were a terrorist attack rather than the grumblings of Mother Nature. The scarier thing is that statistically speaking, the terrorists would probably have been the safer bet. But luckily it was just our happy home settling a bit, kicking up some dust and taking out a few more Hummel figurines.

Once things settled down and the workday was done, I thought about Japan and the 9.0 magnitude quake that hit them in March. If I understand the Richter scale, and I am pretty sure I do, then that quake was more than 1000 times stronger than what we felt here. That is hard to imagine. Solid ground is not supposed to move that way. I cannot even fathom what it would be like if what we felt had been even ten times the intensity it was.

In the end, our little East Coast quake was nothing to get excited about and everyone soon turned their attention back to the approaching hurricane which was much more likely to cause real damage than our little earthquake. I guess every region has its own dangers to deal with and everything considered, I am more than happy dealing with the familiar threat of a hurricane than a surprise earthquake any day. Now where is the nearest hurricane party?

A Poll To Shake Your Foundation

How did the "Great East Coast Mega-Quake" affect you?

See results

Since this quake was an unusual event for the area, scientists were able to collect a lot of useful data and make many observations that they used to verify or disprove previous predictions that had been made. If you would like to see what the scientists have to say about this quake and what was learned from it, check out the United States Geological Survey report by clicking here.


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    • Lauryallan profile image


      8 years ago

      Makes me glad I live in an earthquake free zone.

    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 

      8 years ago from The Garden State

      I'm in New Jersey and though quite a few people in my office swore that they felt the shaking, I never felt a thing. It wasn't till people started calling me on the phone and saying "Did you feel that?" that I even knew anything had happened. I feel so left out. :(

    • Larry Fields profile image

      Larry Fields 

      8 years ago from Northern California

      Voted up. 5.8? Here in California, we use Magnitude 5.8 earthquakes to stir the sugar into our morning coffee! :-)


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