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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

August 23, 2011 East Coast Earthquake

Yesterday afternoon, we had a brief glimpse into what many Californians and others in earthquake prone areas experience regularly without a second thought. In my house, I was lying down and the wall next to my bed began shaking, the knick-knacks on the shelf attached to that wall began rattling. And there was a sound - a roaring sound. We have an elliptical machine which is about 2 feet away from that wall in the next room. I was sure one of the kids was on their pumping it really hard and causing this problem!

I jumped up...the words "What is going on out there?" falling from my lips as I rushed around the bed and to the door, which when I opened it, I realized the commotion had stopped and there was no one on the elliptical machine. In fact, Daniel, Katrina and Jack were all outside on the deck staring up at the sky! Daniel thought it had been caused by a low flying helicopter, but there wasn't one in sight. We then realized it must have been an earthquake. First I went to Drudge Report, but there wasn't any mention there. Then I went to Facebook to place a status update and couldn't believe it as I started reading posts of friends near and far that they had just experienced an earthquake! When I saw a friend from NY posting, I knew we had just experienced something pretty big and unique.

Turning the TV on, I saw people filling the streets of DC and NY and just like after 9/11 all kinds of reports were coming in - The Washington Monument was tilting, there were cracks in the Smithsonian Main building, the Capitol Building and the White House were being checked for structural damage, local school systems were sending kids home...some of these reports came to nothing and meanwhile, our friends on the West Coast were scratching their heads...A 5.8? Really? And what's all the fuss about?

We get tremors from time to time on the East Coast, but most of them go unnoticed. This one shook foodstuffs off of grocery store shelves, knocked over bookcases and entertainment centers, caused a few buildings to lose parts of themselves (everything from a lone brick to a complete wall), and left some buildings with large cracks in them.

The East Coast isn't earthquake territory. Our buildings are not prepared and the sad part is that while we get quakes rarely, they do happen and when they happen, they are felt for a long, long way. This is because of the bedrock that is found under the east coast. Instead of the waves dissipating like they do in the sandy soil of the West Coast, they just keep trucking on in the bedrock of the East Coast. I read where one geologist said it would take several dozen earthquakes of a similar size on the West Coast to have the same reach as we had from one on the East Coast.

Fortunately, there are no reports of death that I am aware of from yesterdays earthquake. While there has been damage, it doesn't appear to have been extensive. Though, now with a major hurricane aimed at the Northeast, there is concern that buildings weakened by the shaking may not fair well in the high winds that are predicted.

I think the thing that struck me most was the fear that the shaking brought to the forefront for our countrymen in NYC. With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 quickly approaching, and with the memories etched into the minds of those who lived through 9/11 - yesterday's shaking gave them several horrifying moments.

At this point you might want to stop reading if you don't want to know more about earthquakes in the middle of our country that could have some effect on us. But, if you are curious, or fascinated (like I am) by all means, read on...You might not want to share with nervous youngsters though.

If you want to read about one of the most damaging series of earthquakes ever to hit the United States, you should check out New Madrid 1811-1812 earthquakes. That is reading that may put a bit of curl in your hair. There are even eye witness accounts. Here is some more information on the New Madrid quakes.

Below you will find a couple of interesting videos.

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