In 1933, my great-grandfather Wade Hampton had his store destroyed during the Long Beach Quake (see photos). I’ve been through the 71 and 87 quakes, and my father went through the Northridge one, which brought down several mall buildings. Earthquakes have an immense release of power that can be quite destructive.
Today, we had a 5.9 magnitude earthquake in Virginia. According to the news, it was felt all over the east coast. When it started, I was talking to someone who had come to my cube. We both feel a little vibration through the floor. It was kind of like a truck driving by–though trucks couldn’t drive by that side of the building. We both stopped talking and looked around: “What’s that?”
Then the vibrations increased in strength, and I recognized what it was: “Earthquake.”
When I was kid in the L.A. school system, we did earthquake drills, which are like fire drills. You feel an earthquake, you duck under your desk and cover your neck and head. So that’s what I did here, because, really that was the only place to go. The earthquake increased in strength, and the building swayed back and forth. That was the strange one because I was on the first floor of a four story building. The earthquake peaked, and then shaking eased off and faded. Not quite as abrupt of a stop as the ones I remember from California, but this is different terrain.
Immediately after, we evacuated the building. I was one of the fire marshals, so I grabbed my department sign and directed our people to the evacuation spot while the other fire marshal headed out there to take role call. It’s very different than doing a drill, where it’s somewhat orderly and no one quite cares. Here, people cared a whole lot about being accounted for and if they couldn’t find their fire marshal, they asked us to sign them in.
Eventually, someone came and told us if we had our car keys to go home. They were not letting anyone into the building until they inspected it for damage. On the drive home, I looked around, but I didn’t see any obvious damage. The National Cathedral was reported to have suffered some damage and both Metro and Amtrack were inspecting tracks for damages. The airports were all open.
By the time I got home, the marvels had technology had happened: My work announced over Facebook they were open again!
Did you feel the earthquake?