A 5.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the Washington metropolitan area yesterday, causing minor damage to buildings and other structures but a sense of unease among residents.
“I heard a loud noise. I thought an airplane was close to the building or some type of construction work being done,” said Trivel Miller, who works at the Department of Justice in Washington. “Pictures began falling off the office wall, desks were sliding and the building began to shake.”
People told similar stories as far north as Canada, south to Florida, and east from New York to Michigan on the west. They began using their cell phones to call, text and tweet, asking “Was there just an earthquake?” Within minutes of tweeting the trending topic on Twitter was “#dcquake.”
Quake Centered 80 Miles From D.C.
Preliminary reports from the U.S. Geological Survey indicated the quake was centered near Mineral, Va., about 80 miles south of Washington. Earthquakes of magnitude 5.8 can cause damage to buildings and other structures, according to the USGS. The last earthquake to hit the region was a magnitude of 3.6 on July 16, 2010, USGS said. It was centered 20 miles northwest of Washington.
“I was on an interview and just received my first ‘big girl’ job offer,” said Derricka Arthur, 21, senior at Trinity Washington University who will start work at Elite D.C. magazine. “Moments after accepting, my legs began shaking and the windows rattling.”
Pharoh Martin, director of digital content at Radio One, said the quake didn’t interfere with their work.
“This earthquake turned me and my staff into reporter mode,” Martin said. “This was a time to shine and go into an overdrive.”
Martin said once everyone had cleared the building, he turned to social media to find answers. He then updated the Radio One website.
“This is my job,” he said. “When tragic things happen, we in the media are suppose to report it.”
Security teams from the Pentagon to Metro evacuated buildings all over the city to make sure there was no structural damage after the tremor.
CNN reporter Barbara Starr was in the Pentagon’s press office when the roof started to shake. “When the building began shaking rather violently,” Starr said, “hundreds of people began streaming out.” She said many people thought the building was under attack.
At Howard University, students spent much of the second day of classes outdoors when the campus was evacuated around 2 p.m. The students waited several hours outside the dorms and on the yard until engineers determined that it was safe to re-enter campus buildings.
“We have been out here so far for nearly three hours waiting to get back into our dorms,” said junior Jonquilyn Hill. “There is nowhere to use the restroom, and students are becoming irritated.”
Hill said she would have expected this catastrophic event to take place in California, but never in the Washington area.
Senior Miesha Loyd says this earthquake was the scariest thing she has ever witnessed. “It reminded me that God is in control.”