Where were you when the 8/23/11 VA earthquake hit? Share your story!

Map showing earthquakes

If you have the chance, please, leave me a comment describing where you were, what you were doing, who you were with and any other details you would like to share.  I want to compile a collection of experiences!  Please, include the following: city and state, how people you witnessed reacted to the quake, what you felt, whether you were hurt and any other details you think pertinent!  If you didn’t feel it where you live, but would like to share your experiences or reactions to it, feel free!  All are welcome!

Seismic Waves



Filed under Historian's Journal

19 responses to “Where were you when the 8/23/11 VA earthquake hit? Share your story!

  1. I was at my desk, dutifully typing (!) when the quake hit. At first, I wasn’t sure it was an earthquake. I thought it might be a truck in the alley on the side of the house or some sort of drilling work. Then I thought my house was collapsing! Something in my office fell. By about the time it was over, I thought about getting in a doorway. When it did finally stop, I went to look outside and was met in the hallway by my beagle. Outside the telephone wires were shaking and I thought, at least, whatever happened was bigger than my house and yard! I post on Facebook–still a little unsure of myself–and then Facebook blew up and everyone was asking the same question. My adrenaline and heart rate did not come down, right away! As far as I know, no one among my family and friends was hurt, but I have heard sirens (we live near the fire department). On Facebook, within 5 minutes of my first post, I had reports of tremors being felt in Canada, Chicago and the Carolinas. Friends and family were chattering in Morgantown, WV and Pittsburgh, PA. At first the phones weren’t working, but gradually services were restored. My sister-in-law walked over with their dog. Our cats were wound up–the eldest peed himself… *sigh*–but, everyone seemed to calm down pretty quickly. Needless to say, my schedule got a bit out of kink! The rest of my family is stuck in traffic on the home commute as many offices in the DC/Baltimore area have been evacuated and closed. We were told to expect some more, but have felt nothing since up here.
    ~Brooklyn Park (Baltimore), MD

  2. Jennifer Cook

    I was in my kitchen when my husbands ems radio went off with a firecall for a building shaking. I thought to myself, “those people must be crazy. That’s earthquake stuff and we don’t have earthquakes in Pittsburgh!” Then my friend Rachel texted me, “did you feel the earthquake! The tv shook here.” It seems that to really feel it in this area you had to be on a 5th floor or higher.
    -Monroeville, PA

  3. Amanda Rowe

    i was on my couch checking emails etc on the laptop and the couch felt like it was shaking. I thought that was weird and started looking around to see what was happening. I thought it might be heavy equipment in the lot behind my house and then I thought the washing machine was off balance and shaking the floor. Earthquake was the last thing on my mind cause I live in Pittsburgh. I check outside and don’t see anything and check the washer and its fine. Then I get on Facebook and everyone is talking about an earthquake and how far away from the epicenter it could be felt. I thought “That explains it! But who knew you could feel earthquakes in Pittsburgh?”
    ~Ross Township, Pittsburgh, PA

  4. I live near Syracuse, NY, and did not feel anything. I was probably on the couch, taking an unemployment-nap. Slightly jealous that others in the area felt the tremor, but I’m not going to wish for another chance.

    I found out via twitter, about 45 minutes after the event. Seems everyone was scared at first but after realizing everyone was okay, moved onto making fun of the Earthquake. That’s America for us. Whatever doesn’t kill us, makes us laugh.

  5. Sean

    2nd floor of my house. Cedar Park TX. Fighting with ATT. And Work.

  6. Diana J

    I was standing in the office talking to the paralegal when the junior lawyer started asking if we’d felt ‘that’. ‘Uh…no.’ So the discussion then devolved into her saying her desk was shaking and us suggesting it might have been the construction crew outside. The paralegal and I felt nothing but apparently our computers did move slightly. The radio is reporting that people are saying they felt it all across Southern Ontario and one of my friend’s relatives on facebook told them that they felt it in Montreal and possibly further north.

  7. Eleanor S.

    i was sitting on my bed with a book, and suddenly my bed was shaking, i sat up and wondered how a truck large enough to shake my house was so quiet, then i realized it was a quake and ran and stood in the doorway of my bedroom(third grade earthquake safety) and waited for the shaking to stop, my poor fish were so confused, @_@. lol

    • Katie S.

      Earthquake safety would be a class they’d teach you in California. All my schooling was from Tornado and Hurricane areas so I couldn’t remember right away WHAT to do. 🙂

  8. Katie S.

    I manage apartment communities, so today I was in Washington, DC at a property where I had three other female colleagues and a customer with me. I was in the middle of typing up a form when the office initially started to shake; so it took me a second to realize what was going on. My first thought was that the guys doing the repair to the garage door downstairs had done something horribly wrong, followed by the idea of some potential structural issue of this newly constructed building that we were in and that the building was about to collapse on us.

    I kept expecting it to stop shaking, but it felt like the shaking just kept getting worse and lasted longer than I ever would have expected until it finally just ceased. Realizing that all my other “premonitions of doom” weren’t very likely and remembering that I’d seen on MSN that Colorado had had a quake within the last 24 hours; my next thought was that DC must be having an earthquake too. After the progression of strength with the tremor, I didn’t trust the office to sit still very long and decided everyone needed to get out of the office.

    One of my colleagues declared that she had to check on her children, went to her car and sent a text later that schools were closed and she wasn’t coming back until tomorrow. My two other colleagues went outside and began texting friends and family to see if they’d felt it and if they were ok. I went back with the maintenance man to announce on the public address system that we’d had an earthquake and that (because all of my knowledge of earthquake protocol had left me) everyone should get out of the building. Only about a third of the residents went outside and waited with us and over the next hour there were phases of people deciding to risk it and going back inside and others coming out to join us. We kept worrying about aftershocks coming. I kept refreshing my phones web browser to see if there was any new information because no one in the area had cell phone service and initially some of our texts didn’t go anywhere, but our internet was working. While sitting outside the residents spanned the range of being generally incredulous that there could be any danger or talking about feeling an urgency to create a “emergency kit” for their homes.

    The customer that had been in our office was calm and her biggest concern was that we were going to shut down the office and not let her move in today. About an hour and a half after the quake we went back in the office and a woman on the street came in. She had tears in her eyes and asked to use our phone to try and call her mother and daughter. After several tries she wasn’t able to get through, but thanked us and went back out to the street to continue on her walk home without gaining any peace of mind.

    I don’t think of myself as someone prone to unnecessary drama, but I was genuinely scared when the earthquake hit and was concerned about going back in the building. I was relieved to get the text that my wife was ok and breathed more freely when I was able to get through to the friend that our daughter, Xan was with. All in all, no one got hurt and we only have a couple of cracks that we need to investigate the structural impact of, but this experience has had an effect on me.

  9. I was sitting upstairs in my Baltimore house when I noticed my tower of DVDs starting to sway and my desk was rumbling. My first thought was to try and reach out and make the desk stop shaking, but that didn’t work of course.

    I was holding my DVD stack and trying to reach the doorway with at least half my body. My cat, Riley, was running in circles throughout the rooms upstairs, while my other cat simply raised his head and wondered if Riley had gone insane.

    The rumbling got worse and louder, and a house guest who was downstairs on the phone started yelling for me, so I was forced to make several small stacks of DVDs and run downstairs to make sure the house was OK.

    Before I went downstairs though, I saw the walls of the house swaying and I wondered about the construction of a house built in 1929. Would they consider earthquakes all the way here on the East Coast?

    Ran outside and found all my neighbors out in the street. It seems, we only meet in the street like that for great events of Mother Nature. The last time was snowmeggedon. I find, minus the brief terror, that these events are somehow really good for the neighborhood. 🙂


  10. Katie

    I was eating falafel in Brooklyn with my husband and mother-in-law. At 1st we thought it was a truck passing. We didn’t realize it was an earthquake until we drove by the courthouse and noticed everyone was on the sidewalk.

  11. I was at my desk at work. First shock surprised me, swaying let me figure out what it was, second shock got me to tweet it. No big deal. I was on the second floor. People on first floor who were walking at the time did not notice it.

    My wife thought she stumbled. Two of our parrots (Nandays) flew around in a panic. Normally they don’t leave their cages although they’re flighted. Unknown if they started to fly before the quake or after.

  12. Alyia

    Pittsburgh, PA– I was at work, 21 stories up on the top floor of our 1920’s- era building. I felt a curious swaying sensation and looked up to see that the ductwork above my head was swaying and rattling. My first thought was that perhaps I was about to pass out, and then I thought that maybe there had been an explosion of some kind. My coworkers came running down the hallway saying that the building was moving, and that’s the first time that I thought there might have been an earthquake. I had vague thoughts of going to stand in a doorway, but the swaying had stopped and it seemed most important to get out of the building (swaying when you’re so far up is a pretty unsettling experience!). I grabbed my phone from the desk I was standing at, and I considered running across the hallway to my office to grab my purse, but then I thought “That’s how people die! Never go back for your purse!” We ran out to the stairwell and hustled down 21 flights of stairs. At first there was no one else in the stairwell, and we thought maybe it was only us who had felt it, but soon we heard other people above and below us. When we got out to the street, it was flooded with people, all standing on the sidewalks, on their phones, looking up, wondering whether there would be aftershocks and waiting for someone to tell them what to do. I talked to my mom and dad briefly to make sure they were okay. We called the risk management department of our workplace and were told to wait a half an hour before re-entering the building, which we did. We were slightly worried that someone would have entered the building and stolen our work laptops, since we didn’t lock the door, but they were all fine, and there was no visible damage. I never in a million years thought that I’d experience an earthquake in Pittsburgh, but it made me realize that in a certain sense our view of ourselves as “masters of the earth” is pretty arrogant… and how easily it is to rattle, and perhaps even topple, polite society.

  13. Michele

    I live about 50 miles from the epicenter. First, I thought it was a truck rumbling by, then a really loud truck, then my whole room started rattling and I wonder if my house is coming apart, I ran to the stairs and called for the kids, because I didn’t know where they were. Then you wonder, is it a gas line rupture? No, it’s going on too long. Is this an earthquake? But we don’t have those here. They were right down stairs and they ran over to the stairs and then we stood in a door way of sorts. Then it stopped. Then, I pick up the phone, trying to decide whether to call Kevin or dial 911, but the phone is dead. Then, I look out the window–was it just us? Then I see a rattled lady come out of the house across the street with her day care kids. I go outside and so does my next door neighbor. We decide it was an earthquake and go back in. Then, I post on FB 🙂 FB lights up with others saying the same thing–beat the local news to it. I’m on this quirky adoption yahoo group. One of our recurring themes is to post any earthquake we learn of anywhere in the world. I got to post an earthquake where I was!! Never thought that would happen. Ever.

  14. My earthquake experience happened after coming from my 4H leader’s farm and watching her two youngest children while she was at a doctor’s appointment. All three of us were sitting under the covering next to her house when it started at first it tremored and then it started again so I thought there might be a raccoon in the rafters so I went to go check. When I saw that the horse trailer (housing baby turkeys) was also shaking I thought there might another raccoon in there with the baby turkeys so I ran opened the horse trailers door the little baby turkeys were all so scared and confused. Beside that the kids found the whole thing very amusing.

  15. I was just sitting at my desk at work. When the shaking started, I was annoyed, thinkng that constrution, which had been the bane of my existance until it ended a a couple months ago, had started again next door. After a few seconds I realized I didn’t hear any jackhammering, and it occurred to me it might be an earthquake. I went out into the hall, and saw several co-workers goin outside, and realized that something was going on. By the time I was outside, it had stopped.

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