DC never saw it coming. It seems like it happens only in the movies… A 5.9 Earthquake rocked the Nation’s Capital for a mere few seconds. This is my take on the event. I hope you read it with an open mind
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 is a day that many Washingtonians will never forget. The small town of Mineral, Virginia felt the earth move when an earthquake suddenly came out of nowhere. This quake is recorded as the second most powerful that hit our neighbor to the South since the late 1880′s. Today’s tremor was the second in recent history. The last time my home region felt the shakes was July of last year when a 3.8 tremor shook the Rockville area at 5:00am. Thankfully, I was asleep when it happened.
Our quake (yes, we can claim it) could be felt as far away a Ohio to the West, Canada to the North, and North Carolina to the South. Where was I when the quake happened? I had just gotten back from Subway and was getting ready to eat my Oven Crisp sub at my desk in Downtown DC. When I first heard the sound, I initially thought it was a semi rolling down K Street. Then the sound got loud like a freight train rolling down the tracks. As soon as I felt the tremor, I stopped what I was doing and went to the arch of the door and held my ground. In all honesty, I didn’t know I knew instantly what to do in a earthquake since I never had the experience. Sure, I have been through plenty of blizzards and one hurricane in my days, but how I quickly jumped into action for an earthquake is beyond me. I am just glad that I wasn’t alone in the office that day. My operations chief and I evacuated the office as soon as we could to terra firma. While we were outside, the scene was like something straight out of a disaster movie. Hundreds of people gathered outside the office buildings and Farragut Square to ponder, to enjoy the sunshine, and to reflect what transpired over the course of a beautiful Tuesday afternoon.
As soon as we felt it was clear to go back in the building, we headed back up to the eighth floor. I find it very hard to believe that when it came to technology at its finest, the cell phones failed but the internet kept rolling along during this time. As soon as I logged on my Facebook, my wandering eyes saw the status updates of my friends who had experienced the quake like I did. From the serious to the hilarious, my friends had some good takes on the quake. It was quite peculiar to observe how much quicker the average person reported the quake on a social network than our own media outlets. While we were getting ready to assess what happened, not one media outlet jumped on the story. When it came to the tweeters, the texters and the facebookers; they jumped on it like a rabbit stealing a carrot.
In fact, I heard on the car radio during my long wait that local radio station Hot 99.5 FM was among the first to tweet the quake according to Twitter. Once the quake rocked DC, people were tweeting and facebooking to alert their friends of an upcoming shake. In all this, the one technology most of us rely on for communication did not make the grade. It took nearly ninety minutes to make a connection to anyone with my cell phone but only seconds once I got back on a computer or to a landline. As someone once said in The Princess Bride, “Inconceivable!”
As soon as my ops chief gave the word to head home, I had a dreadful feeling that the drive ahead was not going to be pleasant. The drive from DC was very unforgiving to say the least. A normal forty-five minute commute home for me took over two hours to make. The last time I remember such a long drive from my work to home was September 11th. For the second time in my life and the lives of my fellow Washingtonians – what we all experienced was so surreal that it felt like a disaster movie that would never happen in DC – but IT DID! A sight that I never thought I would ever see was when I drove past my favorite Best Buy and Target at Potomac Yards to see that they CLOSED for the day. I thought I was dreaming until I drove to my local mall and saw the Safeway and K-Mart decided to shutdown as well. For a brief moment, I honestly thought this can’t be happening to us. Once again, it was our reality for the day.
I finally made it home around 6:00pm. As soon as I got out of my car, I took a good look around my neighborhood to see everything still looked the same. Once I walked through the door and saw my grandmother, I gave her a nice hug. Then I went to my room and saw that the earthquake had left its impression. Some of the DVDs on my shelf have shifted only a few inches. One of my plaques on the wall is slanted to the right. The saving grace of my room is that my special bottle of Bouchaine chardonnay did not topple to the ground from the dresser. It stood its ground. I guess when you suffered thru the
California quakes, east coast quakes are a cakewalk.
Now it brings us to me writing about my quake experience. I bet you’re wondering – why write about it? The answer is simple – because I was there. Someone once told me that a writer takes notes of what’s around them and paints the picture with words. It looks I have done just that in under thirty minutes. I would like to take the time to reach out to my readers and ask of you – what was your experience like?
You can comment on the site and email it to me at email@example.com – We’ll share some of the stories to our readership. Until next time, Keep Your Feet on the Ground – Literally!
Commentary and Original Piece by Dean Rogers