My East Coast earthquake memories and a hurricane on the way

I’m straying momentarily from what I planned to write about, to post about my East Coast earthquake memory.  Shortly before 2 p.m. on August, 23, 2011, I was typing up a little bit more to a story draft for my campus news’ first issue of the semester.  Then I had to get ready to go up to a doctor’s appointment with my mom.  I had just returned a call to her after listening to a voicemail message she left.

Suddenly, the whole house started to shake.  There were creaking sounds all over, and it seemed like the walls might cave in.  Living in a Philly suburb, earthquake was not the first thing that came to mind.  Plus, the house has been shaken up before somewhat by numerous trucks that go by right out front.  But I know that there were no trucks going by out front at the time.

Two of my cats started freaking out, wide-eyed and meowing during the shaking.  Afterward, I was trying to call my mom back with no luck.  I tried to call my dad, but my calls to him kept getting lost as well.  So I texted him about what I was experiencing…that it felt like the house started shaking really bad, but no trucks going by.  I first heard what had happened within a few minutes via tweets by local and regional news.  I texted again to my dad, this time to tell him that it was a 5.8 earthquake felt up & down the coast, which I first found out via Twitter on my phone.  At the time, I didn’t know the exact places that the shaking had reached to.

My mom thought she must have gone over some bumpy spots in the road that she usually goes over.  So she didn’t feel the earthquake.  Some of her co-workers asked her if she was still in an elevator at the time, but she was already in the car.

Eventually, I saw more reports via Twitter and the Weather Channel (which I had been watching for coverage of Hurricane Irene).  The earthquake was said to be felt as far north as Toronto, Canada and Martha’s Vineyard, and as far west as Detroit.

One of my cats actually hunkered in the doorway of the kitchen, which leads out to a 3-season room.  She didn’t seem to want to leave that spot.  It’s Friday, August 26 and she still lingers near that door, as if expecting more shaking.

My mom’s appointment was at Delaware Memorial Hospital.  We had to take an elevator down from garage level H to the hospital’s 2nd floor.  I thought, “This isn’t really a day that I want to be riding in an elevator.”  I never thought I’d be worried about possible earthquake aftershocks while riding an elevator.  Once we reached the 2nd floor without incident, we winded our way through the building to yet another elevator to go up to a doctor’s office on the 4th floor.

The receptionist in the office we had to go to said the whole 5-story building shook.  Someone else in the waiting room had a funny story about the earthquake…she thought her kid was jumping up and down on a bed upstairs, making the ceiling shake!

I didn’t feel any aftershocks if there were any, but it was scary enough to experience an earthquake nearly 6.0 on the Richter scale.  After all, it’s just not a part of our lives here along the East Coast.

Back home and watching the news, I saw a brief mention on the news ticker scrolling by that there was no danger of a tsunami after the earthquake.  The epicenter was reported to be on land, in Richmond, Va.  It’s really strange to see a local news source reporting on tsunami danger for this area, even though it was to state that there was no danger.  According to the graphics on geology, one cause of tsunamis are earthquakes that start under the ocean, shoving the water out of place.

I read this article by Kitty Bean Yancey, about damage to the Washington Monument and here is a slideshow of more earthquake damage.  Pete Kennedy at  Tredyffrin Patch provides information on what to do in an earthquake.

The photo I used for this post is from a visit to D.C. ten years ago.

As I wrote this, news of Hurricane Irene heading for the East Coast continued to become more and more serious.  Unbelievable…an earthquake and a big hurricane in a week’s time!  Hurricane Irene is unusual just as the earthquake was, since this storm’s path is one that hasn’t happened in a long time to certain areas.

About caroldwyer

A freelance photographer and blogger, I'm also a non-traditional graduate of Cabrini College with a B.A. in communication, minor in English and concentration in film studies. As a student, I was a staff writer, photographer and copy editor for the Loquitur. In my final semester, I assisted in promoting campus literary events for Woodcrest Literary Magazine. I love travel, historic places, nature, wildlife and the arts. I hope to be involved in some way with one of those areas throughout my media career. Currently, I'm pursuing my M.F.A. in creative writing and publishing. Read my film blog at - and my literary blog at
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