Shake, rattle, & roll: Va earthquake surprise

Yesterday, while working my to-do list at my desk I suddenly felt the whole house jolt then shudder, then it began to sway, roll, and thump as if on wheels rolling down a hill.

My first thought was a sonic boom and I wondered what jets I’d soon be hearing overhead. (We used to live near military bases and although I know it’s against regulations, it happens.)  Then I realized it had to be an earthquake. I clicked on my Tweetdeck and sure enough others were wondering the same thing, and in the time it took to flip on my office TV, CNN was already talk/gathering/supposing then repeating information as only they can.

The official earthquake rating was 5.8 and centered about 100 miles away in Mineral, Virginia, and about 3 1/2 miles down into the earth’s crust. According to records this was a strong earthquake for this area and come to find out, we live in the Virginia Seismic Zone. It has its own zone! The Wilkes Journal-Patriot blog says that residents of 26 states felt the tremor. That’s not an over-estimate judging from the Tweets I spotted.

When we lived in California, earthquakes became a common occurence and life there includes being prepared at home, in the work place, and schools, for earthquakes and the possibility things may get tricky. Every smart person has an earthquake kit and keeps certain supplies even in their car, just in case. We learned to have an emergency contact should we all be in separate places when the “big one” hit and we might not be able to communicate or get back home. Our plan was to call Wisconsin to give our status and to pass along word. That’s because in an earthquake it’s thought that it’s far easier to call out long distance than local. We thought we left earthquakes behind when we moved away from California.

Yesterday, I didn’t even wonder about my daughter or son-in-law because I spotted Tweets and Facebook status almost immediately. Our Internet wasn’t affected although our phone line was, and we didn’t lose power. I got a text from my sister within minutes asking if we felt an earthquake and pretty soon my Facebook had several friends wondering the same thing. I posted we were fine, then sent a family e-mail to assure everyone we were okay. The earthquake happened at 1:51 p.m. local time, my first Tweet was at 1:53, and my e-mail was sent at 2:32. I was back to my original schedule by 3:30.

From news accounts Washington DC has more after effects and lots of precaution evacuations. Our house seems to be solid with only one question spotted on the roof, which could have been there before yesterday. Surprisingly I read today that most homeowners insurance does not include earthquake damage. I have no clue about ours. I didn’t even know to ask for earthquake coverage to tell you the truth. That may be something we should consider adding considering we ARE in a seismic zone.

We’ve had several aftershocks which I’ve only noticed because of the sound the windows make when the house shudders. It’s like a bird banging against the window but several at the same time.  Boomer our cat and I have gone about our daily business and so has the rest of the neighborhood. I’ve said grateful prayers for our safety and taken the opportunity to take a look at preparing in a better way.

Are you prepared? FEMA has recommendations on their website.  Print out the list and then let’s get busy!


About Robin Arnold

Reader, writer, gardener, geek, maker of homes in several states, now settled in Virginia with husband Bob, and Hazel and Wilson the tabby cats.
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