At precisely 1:51 p.m. EST on August 23, 2011, I was in the midst of leaning over my boss’s desk to give him a treat (not like that sickos). As I placed the napkin and complimentary cupcake on his desk, a leftover from a work event, the earth moved under my feet. My boss and I stared at each other for a moment, contemplating our individual sanity and wondering whether to voice our concerns. One of us, I can’t recall in the blur of tumult that followed, uttered ominously: “What was that?”
Seconds thereafter, the shaking quieted and the earth stood still. Heads popped out of offices from every direction, bewildered expressions on each and every face. I summoned the courage to suggest the impossible: “I think that was an earthquake.”
Lo and behold, I’m not an idiot (for now, at least).
The next hour was nothing short of riveting, compared to a normal work day. People stopped working! They compared their experiences! Everyone called home to compare more experiences! People frantically texted “OMG did you feel that?!,” Twitter blew up, and productivity effectively ceased for the whole of the East Coast.
We learned what is now old news: The quake registered a magnitude of 5.8, was relatively shallow (about 3.7 miles deep), with an epicenter located in rural Mineral, VA, less than 100 miles from Washington, D.C.
Quickly, buildings were evacuated (my office outside of D.C. didn’t even bother to make an announcement badass!), government employees were released from work early, and traffic became only slightly more hellacious than usual.
In the hours that followed, we were lucky to receive live-action coverage of the quake’s aftermath. Pictures of wine bottles on the floor of a grocery store flashed across the television screen, among other worrisome images - such as the title image above and the image below, both forwarded from a concerned friend.
Still on edge from our harrowing experience, fights were quick to break out on Twitter. West Coast dwellers digitally rolled their eyes, while we East Coasters lashed out with cries of, “Yeah?! Well, what about when it snows an inch out there? What THEN!?!” However, perhaps my favorite tweet contained a message of charity and recovery:
Though we can likely dub the East Coast Quake of 2011 the year’s biggest over-hyped event (and that includes the Kardashian nuptials), there were in fact some real consequences: The North Anna Nuclear Power Plant, located less than 20 miles from the epicenter, shut down with no incidents or damage to report; cracks are rumored to have formed at the top of the Washington Monument; three pinnacles from the central tower of the National Cathedral fell off; and there have been reports of minor injuries sustained throughout the area. This morning many schools and offices in the Virginia and D.C. areas are closed in order to asses or repair structural damages.
Ultimately, we’re glad that the East Coast Quake of 2011 came and went with very little incident and a whole lot of hype. Now, on to the hurricane!