Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Yikes! An earthquake just shook Washington, DC hard enough that I felt it very strongly here in central Connecticut (though the kids playing outside in the backyard next door didn't seem to notice).

I was on the living room sofa working on my laptop when suddenly the sofa started shaking so hard I couldn't possibly think, I must be imagining this. I heard the sounds of small things falling over, and the shaking continued long enough for me to remember "My building is unreinforced brick, the absolute worst kind to be in during a quake." So I finally got up and walked toward the back door, thinking I'd be safer on the building's outer wooden porch/stair structure -- and as I walked across the floor, it didn't seem to shake so much as vibrate -- but by the time I got the door open, everything had stopped.

On one wall in my living room there's a hanging shelf displaying a collection of miniature porcelain items. It has several narrow horizontal wooden shelves that fit snugly into slots on the vertical wood frame, and one shelf had shaken itself out of its right slot (and a few of the miniatures fell down, but by amazing good luck, none of them fell off, or broke). I can't find any actual damages, either to the building or anything in it, and I obviously haven't lost electricity or internet.

So I was completely unharmed, as was all my property, and I have nothing to complain about, but: that was damned scary. I've sat through some wild storms, both here and in cheap Southern college apartments where the storms blew much stronger on buildings much flimsier. Those are often frightening in their own right, but having a calm sky and perfectly still, quiet air while the rest of the world vibrates has its own unique creepiness.

INTENSELY IRRITATING UPDATE: In an email timed 2:39 pm EDT, my boyfriend gave the following eyewitness report:
I just witnessed a My9 reporter actually say it was a "mild earthquake just weeks before the 9/11 anniversary."


Anonymous smartass sob said...

I take it you've never "♪♫♪ felt the Earth move under your feet? ♪♫♪" :-)
The only time I've ever experienced a quake was many years ago out in San Diego when I was in the Navy. It was only a very mild tremor but definitely enough to get one's attention. I was sitting in an old wooden frame building left over from World War II, which had been built on a pier and beam foundation. The thing began shaking and swaying; by the time I had figured out what was happening and started for the door, it was over. Not a pleasant experience, thank-you very much.

2:45 PM  
Blogger TimS said...

I live in Los Angeles, and have experienced a few tremors. The funny thing is by the time you realize what's happening it's all over. And you're right -- the experience is damn creepy.

11:33 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

Tim, if I were in Los Angeles for a quake of that magnitude I doubt I'd've worried, because building codes out there are written with earthquakes very strongly in mind. But not in New England, and especially not back when my building was erected. I wasn't particularly worried until I remembered "My building is unreinforced brick/masonry, the absolute worst kind of construction where earthquake resistance is concerned."

In Mineral, Virginia, where the epicenter was, a town hall roof collapsed. I highly doubt town hall roofs in southern California would collapse in an earthquake of "only" 5.9.

7:45 AM  

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