as i'm sure many of you have heard via numerous media outlets, washington, d.c. got rocked by a 5.9 earthquake yesterday. crazy? you better believe it! on sunday, chris, my sister lauren (but i've always called her clarence, so you can, too), and i planned a last minute trip to d.c. for tuesday since clarence has this week off of work for vacation. so we got up before the sun, headed to d.c., and ended up with one crazy memory! i knew i'd do a lot of talking about the earthquake, plus i have a lot of pictures i want to share in general, so i'm doing the non-earthquake post tomorrow!
here we are, just three people in hats with no idea that an earthquake is less than an hour from happening! the earthquake story: we rode the metro into union station where they have a ton of places to eat lunch (because i love food, i'll share: clarence and i had greek, and chris had jamaican). a story up from the metro line, but still one story underground is where we ate. clarence and i just sat down with our haagen-dazs ice cream when we felt a slow, gentle rumble that we assumed was a train. then the rumbling got louder, the building started to sway, i saw the floor above us moving (in case you haven't been to union station, the floor we were on isn't completely closed from the ground floor; it's open in the center all the way to the top of the domed atrium), and large pieces of the ceiling from the atrium started to crumble and fall through the first floor onto and all around us. people we screaming, the stairwells and escalators were full, we had dust in our eyes from the crumbling ceiling, and all i could do was sit wide-eyed, looking at what was going on around me, terrified the building would crush and kill us. side note: i am NOT cool under pressure. chris pulled clarence and i up and screamed at us to get between the columns (can i just say how useful it is to have an architect husband?) because we'd get trampled on the steps or escalator. the earthquake didn't last long, but because no one knew for a few minutes what had happened, we also didn't know that 1. the building wasn't going to collapse, and 2. that it wasn't a terrorist attack. i have never trembled so much or felt so not-in-control of my body in my life.
i told chris after we got home last night that had i known the building wasn't going to cave in and kill us, i would have thought to take a video of the ceiling falling inside union station, as well as the evacuation and pandemonium on the streets. nearly all of the buildings in d.c. were being evacuated, so as you can imagine, the streets, sidewalks, parks, etc. were filled beyond capacity with people. we walked maybe a mile to this courtyard in the judiciary square area and watched a fireman inspect a section of an old building which housed a subway restaurant and apartments that had crumbled. by this time i'd calmed down... luckily.
unfortunately all monuments and museums were closed either for the rest of the day or indefinitely, so we did a lot of walking, a lot of talking, and some sight-seeing where we didn't need to go in a building. on our way to the white house we stopped and watched as this helicopter slowly circle around the washington monument looking for structural damage. this morning we discovered that damage was found and the monument is closed indefinitely. there was a couple on the news that said they were in the top of the monument (and if you've ever seen it, you know just how high up that is) during the earthquake, and that the structure swayed about a foot, and like us, they were hit with pieces of the crumbling building.
now, my west coast friends, hear me out... east coast buildings are not built to earthquake codes seeing as how the last large one in this area was a 4.8 and occurred in the nineteenth century, so you can't be sure they're not coming down on you. and then there's the scientific aspect... west coast earthquakes are very localized due to the plates and the movement, but here, because our earthquake is caused by an entire plate shifting under us, not just by a faultline, and our soil is so much more dense, an earthquake in virginia can be felt as far west a chicago, as far south as alabama, and as far north as canada. seriously, this was unnerving!
so that's my story about tuesday! how was your day? did you feel the earthquake?