Earthquake shakes East Coast
Chimneys were the hardest hit during the Aug. 23 earthquake. Minimal damage including cracks in plaster, a broken window here and there and a fallen limb made up the rest of the base damage.

A 5.8 level earthquake hit central Virginia about 2 p.m. Eastern standard time Aug. 23 and lasted for about 15-30 seconds. Centered in Mineral, Va., about 80 miles southwest of Washington D.C., the quake set the earth moving all up and down the eastern seaboard.

Tall buildings in Washington, D.C., and New York evacuated along with the monuments and museums in D.C. and various government buildings including the Pentagon and State Department.

Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, with the oldest building 119 years old, was not free from damage. Homes sustained cracks in the plaster, broken windows and a couple of chimneys fell, said Dee Spellman, director of Executive Management Housing. She added that not many buildings were damaged, and contractors would soon be starting the repairs.

Following the quake, emergency personnel went about assessing damage on post to make sure that buildings were safe to occupy and that no one was hurt.

The Cody Child Development Center School and Youth Aged Services had to shut down the all-purpose room, where staff meetings, big events and gym activities such as basketball take place. However, no children were in the room and everyone was evacuated for safety reasons.

Some damage was found in the room Sara Mulhall, school aged services and middle school and teen director, said. They hoped to reopen the room Wednesday once it got the all clear to be occupied again.

As for the children, she said they asked what was going on during the evacuation. The teachers explained, but because so little happened at the center it didn't affect the children, Mulhall said.

Emergency services were on standby waiting for damage reports to submit to the Directorate of Public Works.

"DPW had representatives out this morning [Aug. 24], again to go back to ensure that what was reported was no worse than what the information was we got yesterday," said Rocque Williams, operations specialist Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Training.

"Representatives from each of the various staff sections came down to report to the Emergency Operation Center and began to take necessary actions," said Williams. Williams also mentioned that DPW did a walk around of the base to make sure no trees fell on the fences. Henderson Hall and Arlington National Cemetery reported no earthquake-related problems.

DPTMS pulled together a log of information, what damage was done and what was being done in regards to the damage, said Nathaniel Robinson, operations specialist DPTMS, and from that log we created the executive summary. The building coordinators reported to their directors, the directors brought the information to DPTMS."

The EXSUM showed that several office buildings on Fort Myer had their chimneys damaged, cracks appeared in the sides of a couple of buildings and one building even had a gas leak that was turned off until it can be repaired.

Fort McNair had a few bricks fall, cracks in a couple of stairwells, a window broken and a tree limb fall against one of the living quarters.

The final step is for DPW to pull together a cost analysis and apply for funding to fix the damage.

As a reminder, the Federal Emergency Management Agency lists on its website that during an earthquake if you are inside, stay inside and take cover, stay away from any large fixtures that could fall on you, hide under a desk or in a doorway. Most injuries occur when people indoors attempt to move or leave a building.

If you're outdoors, stay there, move away from buildings and utility wires. In a vehicle, it is advised that the driver stop, but preferably not under bridges, buildings, overpasses or utility wires. If one does get trapped by debris, stay still, cover mouth with handkerchief or clothing and tap on a pipe or wall. Shout only as a last resort.

Page last updated Wed August 31st, 2011 at 08:58