DC Earthquake 2011: First Instance of Earthquake Felt Weird, Scary; Post-Earthquake, Questions Arose

I experienced my first earthquake during the afternoon of August 23, 2011. I saw my house move back and forth a little bit. I had thought that a heavy construction truck was moving through the area. A few seconds after that sensation, the movement increased noticeably. At this point, I became concerned, but I did not know what to do in such a situation.

After the movement reached its high point, the movement stopped. I thought that the movement was isolated to my own residence. But when I saw the perplexed look on my neighbors’ faces, I knew we had all experienced the same thing. It was about this time that I realized that the event was an earthquake.

Being a resident of the East Coast for my entire life, I had never really experienced an earthquake (the last-reported one occurred during the early morning hours, when I was asleep. I checked around the residence for damage. The only thing damaged was a lamp that fell off a shelf. As for me, my heart was racing, but it settled down after about 30 minutes or so.

As this earthquake occurred during the day (and was noticeable), I had a several questions.

  • Are buildings on the East Coast constructed to withstand a strong earthquake (greater than or equal to 6.0 magnitude)?
  • What are the steps to take when an earthquake occurs? It may be a practice in other areas of the United States to do earthquake drills, but none of those programs exist (as far as I know) in the D.C metropolitan area.
  • Are people properly insured to cover damage caused by earthquakes? (For example, here is text from the Farmers Insurance website).

I am not sure how to answer how to answer these questions now, but I will have to research them.