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Did you feel it?

August 24, 2011 - Michael Palmer
Did you feel it?

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered northwest of Richmond, Va., shook much of Washington, D.C., and was felt as far north as Canada, as far west as Chicago and south as Atlanta.

Here in the office of the T-L we had some shaking that caused pictures on the wall to visibly move, the water cooler swayed and my chair became a high dollar massage model.

I am proud to say that no one at the newspaper left their duty station and fled. We sort of looked around in disbelief at each other. Then the story hit the news, it was indeed an earthquake.

Similar events were happening in Tuscarawas County at the retail store where a relative works. We have felt no aftershocks in our area.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake happened around 1:51 PM. They say it was 3.7 miles deep.

370 miles from Spartanburg, SC4 miles SSE (152°) from Louisa, VA 4 miles SW (236°) from Mineral, VA 16 miles SE (133°) from Gordonsville, VA 20 miles E (79°) from Lake Monticello, VA 41 miles NW (318°) from Richmond, VA 83 miles SW (219°) from Washington, DC

Shaking was felt at the White House and all over the East Coast, as far south as Chapel Hill, N.C. Parts of the Pentagon, White House and Capitol were evacuated. The quake was in Mineral, Va., in Louisa County.

Several buildings were evacuated in Wheeling and of course with the 10th anniversary of 911 approaching the people in New York skyscrapers were not waiting for anyone to tell them before they headed for the stair wells.

I was impressed with the speed of the information on the quake getting to the public, it was immediate news. Several employees commented that face book lit up with posts and even in our area cell phone towers became overwhelmed and communicating through text and tweet was difficult.

It became a topic of conversation that we were being a bit overly dramatic for a mild earthquake, Persons on the West Coast were getting a laugh from the panic I am sure. One face book picture of lawn furniture where one chair had fallen was posted on face book with several slogans. My favorite, “We will rebuild!”

It was something new for us out East, the last earthquake of this magnitude was over 100 years ago, so please forgive us. Many I interviewed were in their 60s and had never felt an Earthquake in their lives. So, it was unusual and worthy of note for those of us who live in a seismically stable zone.

It did give perspective for recent disasters. I can not imagine the 9.0 Japan earthquake in which at least 15,703 people were killed, 4,647 left missing, 5,314 reported injured, 130,927 displaced from their homes and at least 332,395 buildings, 2,126 roads, 56 bridges and 26 railways were destroyed or damaged by the earthquake and tsunami along the entire east coast of Honshu from Chiba to Aomori.

In contrast, I guess some lawn furniture being overturned is laughable. There was actually some minor structural damage, reports indicate that the Washington Monument is cracked near the top and the national cathedral was damaged.

It is for now the main topic of conversation and most likely will be for some time to come. At least until Thursday night when football season begins.


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