Blaze Staffers Give First Hand Accounts of Earthquake

A woman in Midtown Manhattan watches news coverage of the East Coast earthquake. (Photo: Zaheer Cassim)

Editor’s note: The following is a collection of first-hand accounts from Blaze staffers describing how they experienced the 5.8 magnitude East Coast earthquake.

Liz Klimas:

At approximately 1:50 p.m. the town house I just moved into over the weekend in Arlington, VA, began to shake. I thought it was a large construction truck at first or just something weird about the new house. Then, it didn’t stop. Looking out the window from the desk where I work from home, I saw the cars parked out from swaying from side-to-side. Then my instincts from when I was 5-years-old growing up in Los Angeles, CA, kicked in. I stood in the door jam, said a little prayer and tried to think of just what I would do next 1) if the shaking didn’t stop within a reasonable amount of time or 2) damage was done.

Within 10 seconds after the quaking, friends in the area who were on g-chat started pinging asking if we all felt it. One working in a coffee shop in Alexandria, VA, said she got under the table and that no one else in the shop did. One, in Reston, VA, even farther from D.C. and therefore closer to the epicenter of the quake quickly chatted “owowowowowow earthquake g2g”. Another who worked for the Express, a tabloid-style magazine produced by the Washington Post and give at metro stations and other locations, when she came back 10 minutes later said they evacuated and initially thought a bomb went off.

It didn’t take long before I heard sirens running to whatever emergency or scare that was caused because of the quake. But still, within just three minutes I saw cars moving on the road again and friends g-chatted that they were shakily getting back to work or being told to go home. Luckily, I hadn’t hung anything on my walls yet from the move.

Zaheer Cassim:

I could feel the tremble in the bathroom as I was washing my hands. I initially thought the bathroom was shaking and that I should get out of it before it fell down a floor.

Chris Santarelli:

In The Blaze midtown office we all felt a tremor. The office lights were swaying back and forth. Only a few blocks from Grand Central, Empire State and Chrysler buildings. We ran to our windows possibly fearing the worst considering  all those landmarks. But they looked fine from our view. Went straight to Twitter, incredible to see the tweets come in confirming the earthquake. Can hear sirens from the street below as we speak. A few moments of fear and uncertainty, followed by awe of the effect of social media connecting people across the eastern seaboard.

Becket Adams:

I was working out of my apartment in Arlington, VA. on a Blaze article when everything started to shake. Funny enough, I thought the washing machine was going crazy in the next room. It suddenly became apparent that it wasn’t and that this was an honest-to-God earthquake.

It seemed that as soon as it started, it was over (but not without knocking some of my books off the shelf).

I wonder if the fact that I was working on a George Soros article has anything to do with it.

Buck Sexton:

I was putting the finishing touches on a post when I stood up and it felt like the walls around me were moving. For a second I thought it was too much coffee, but I threw on sneakers and hurried into the hallway. A neighbor said it must be nearby construction, but I knew that wasn’t it. A quick internet search told the tale- Aftershocks from VA quake hit NYC.

Chris Field:

I was walking from my office to my kitchen when the house started shaking a little in our home in Northern Virginia. (We’re about 25 miles south of DC and 85 miles north of Richmond.)

When it first hit, I thought there was construction going on outside, but there was no one out there. Then it really began to pick up strength. I went and stood in the kitchen doorway (like a good West Coaster is taught to do) and just waited it out.

Our infant son slept right through it. And our dog did NOT appreciate it. In fact, I think she sensed it coming — she’d been acting a little weird before it happened.

We have a brick home, but thankfully there appears to be no damage and everyone in my family and in our neighborhood is fine.

Madeleine Morgenstern:

Glover Park, Northwest Washington, D.C.:

I’d just gotten back to my second floor apartment when I felt rumbling a little before 2 p.m. I’m from Los Angeles and assumed it was a heavy truck driving by, but when it didn’t stop I knew it was an earthquake. I grabbed my computer and stood under the doorjamb until it stopped, pulling up Twitter to confirm what it was and who was talking about it.

The shaking seemed to last between 20 and 30 seconds and got more intense the longer it went. Nothing fell, no damage and no alarms went off in the building, but it sent neighbors out into the hall asking if everyone had felt it. I tried calling my boyfriend and got through on the third try. His building in Foggy Bottom near the State Department had been evacuated. After I got off the phone with him, cell service cut out and I couldn’t send or receive calls for the next half hour.

I have friends working all around D.C., including the Capitol and the Washington Post, and they were posting on Twitter about evacuating.

Billy Hallowell:

This afternoon, I was with my family enjoying our vacation in Wildwood, New Jersey. I was laying down on the sand staring at the ocean and reading Dr. Carol Swain’s new book, “Be the People” (an excellent read if you haven’t yet had the chance to check it out). A little before 2 p.m., I started to feel a little woozy. I sat down in a beach chair and realized that the earth was moving. My family and I essentially noticed the quake simultaneously; others on the beach began getting a bit nervous. But, the movement was over almost as quickly and abruptly as it had started.

Being that I’m obsessed with technology, I was able to use by Nook Color to search for news stories about what had happened (my cell phone didn’t have a signal). Reading the accounts on Twitter and The Blaze, I quickly learned more about the details. My family and I came back to the house to call family in Washington, D.C. and New York. It’s been a adventurous vacation, to say the least.

Dave Urbanski:

Afternoon in central New Jersey. Blue sky. A few puffy white clouds. No heat or humidity (finally). And then the shaking starts. There were two distinct tremors. The first felt like the brief rumble of a monster truck careening closer and closer before moving on down the road and out of earshot; the second, almost right on the heels of the first, lasted longer and felt like being perched atop a washing machine in spin cycle.

That second jolt got me up and checking for possible damage or carnage. Fortunately there was neither. Nothing even fell or broke. Just a little rumble near the urban jungle. The sky stayed blue and the clouds didn’t go anywhere, either—but Facebook lit up like Christmas tree, folks all up and down the eastern seaboard fascinated.

Having lived in southern California for nearly a decade, this felt like a pretty minor quake…but for the lifers on this side of the country—with little to no quake quotient to draw from—-it was more akin to a “sensurround” movie theater with Charlton Heston saving an entire city (remember Earthquake?). Hopefully we’ll be spared aftershocks.

Mike Opelka:

Our home is nestled in the middle of an arboretum on the northern edge of Wilmington, DE. As I was grazing between the cable channels, watching coverage of the Libyan Looting Festival on the Gadhafi Compound, my wife screamed from the other room, “What is happening?” China rattled in the hutch to my right, and a thunderous sound seemed to be coming from the basement.

“Get out of the house, our boiler’s going to explode!” she said.  I explained to my panicked bride that we don’t have boiler, but exiting the house was a wise idea.  So the three of us… (the dog goes everywhere we do) walked out of our back door and into an eerie silence… just like they always show in movies when something bad has happened.

The typical symphony of birds and crickets that is the soundtrack of our property was totally muted. “EARTHQUAKE!” I muttered

Within a few seconds, the shaking had stopped and about ten minutes later the sounds of mother nature came back… All seemed to be fine, except on cable TV, where every single channel had forgotten about Libya and was now in full Quake coverage.

I wonder how quickly the graphics departments will have the new titles ready?

Meredith Jessup: (via cell phone)

Talking with ppl on the street who are worried about going back inside bc of threat of aftershocks. Everyone is in a bit of shock here in DC bc earthquakes never happen here. Heard someone reading a news report on their phone that said last quake like this in the area was back in the 1800s. Ppl also very reluctant to go home, worried about getting caught in the metro. Sadly, living in DC and this close to the anniversary if 9/11, the first thing that jumped to everyone’s mind was that the tremors might be some kind of terrorist attack.

Eddie Scarry:

I was in my office, which is about a 20min walk from the Capitol. I had just finished up chatting with an intern when the entire office (located on the 6th floor) began shaking as if it were on stilts! The intern and I looked at each other confused, then stepped out into the hallway to see what everyone else was doing.

The office receptionist was entering back into the office and was saying, “Wow, that was an earthquake!” So everyone evacuated and waited outside for about 30min before reentering. The worst part is that people who commute to DC by train are pretty much stranded because they’ve shut them down!

Jon Seidl:

I was sitting at my home office desk working on a story about Libya, when I started feeling my chair sway. I looked around and heard rumbling. It felt like I was on a the first part of a roller coaster: that part where you’re climbing up and it’s kind of jerky. I looked at my TV and it was swaying back and forth.

At that point, my dog jumped out of his blanket and started barking at the noise. I went to grab my camera, but before I could get the video to load, it was over.

That’s when I heard people screaming in the halls. I grabbed my dog and headed out. When I got to the lobby, a young girl asked if I felt that — it became the common question as everyone filed in. At one point, a middle-aged Hispanic woman came running down the steps, crying and holding her head in disbelief trying to assure the person she was talking on the phone that it was alright.

When I realized what had happened, I ran back upstairs and started writing. I tried to call Editor-in-Chief Scott Baker, but the phone lines were jammed and not working.

Luckily, the internet did.