Shortly after Northern Virginia was rocked by an earthquake, my sister called to tell me about it. She felt a violent shaking, as opposed to the rolling motion that characterizes many California quakes. She wanted to know what to tell her kids in case of aftershocks. Should they run outside or stand in a doorway? I told her to have them stay away from windows that might break or any bricks that might fall.
When I lived in California, they advised people to get under a desk or table during a quake. A doorway was a good second choice. My daughter remembered that advice and crawled under her desk when the quake struck. She works on the third floor of an office building in Northern Virginia and her cubicle is next to some large windows. She yelled out to her co-workers to do the same thing. The building was evacuated as a precaution and the employees got to go home early.
My daughter had a hard time making cell phone calls or even sending a text message. Her call to me was the first that went through. I suggested that she send a text to her boyfriend while she was still on the phone with me. I figured that it might be more likely to go through since she had a connection with a local cell tower while we talked. It worked.
After the two phone calls, I tuned in to WTOP.com on my WiFi clock radio and looked online for updates. My Facebook and Twitter feeds were loaded with comments about the quake. Many of my friends live in the D.C. area and wrote about their experience. One of my college friends posted that she was changing clothes at the time and was only concerned with getting dressed in case they had to pull her from the rubble. Fortunately her home in historic Fredericksburg was unscathed.
There was an abundance of jokes online. Many of my Democrat friends posted that the GOP was blaming Obama for the quake. Many of my Republican friends posted that Obama was blaming George W. Bush. One of my Libertarian friends re-posted a joke that the quake was caused by the founding fathers turning over in their graves. Knoxvillians got into the game by adding to the currently popular Stephen A. Burroughs meme: “The Earthquake Felt Him.”