The earthquake epicenter was just outside of Mineral in eastern Virginia, but the shaking
was felt all along the eastern seaboard. The Washington Monument developed cracks and
other damage. In Boston, 530 miles northeast, the buildings of the University of Massachusetts
Boston campus swayed from side to side as the energy reached the harborside fill land
in the middle of the afternoon.
I was sitting in a conference room three floors above an empty parking garage, surrounded by plate glass movable walls with flourescent lights overhead. Our chairs started moving side to side as the lights moved above us. We looked at each other, then someone asked "Is it an earthquake?" I said, simply, "Yes, it is."
We were too far up in the building to get out quickly, but Al took off for the stairwell and headed down. I stayed next to the conference table, in case we needed somewhere to duck. The movement settled within a minute or so, but the topic of the job interview had certainly changed.
After 20 minutes or so, the University security people came and cleared us out of the building, My interview with Symmetric Computing continued, at a picnic table near the Savin Bay shoreline. In the high-tech world, you have to be prepared for the unexpected...
In Charlottesville, Virginia my brother had a somewhat closer encounter:
"The quake center was about 25 mi from my lab building. We did not have any real damage to our house or the lab buidling - a gas line broke downtown and some older buildings lost the top part of chimneys or brick walls. To me, it started as a very rapid small vibration that built over time to a slower, high amplitude waving. The building swayed and the floors were 'rippling.' This continued to build, then finally, after about 30s, started to diminish, ending as another high frequency vibration. Since, we've had at leat 6 aftershocks, up to 4.5 magnitude. I slept through one the night before last, but it woke up Sally and bunches of other people. It all is supposed to be over before too much longer. Next up is the hurricane." [Irene]