So there we were, in the middle of a three-day survival class, under the shade of a stand of oak, beech and pine trees, when all of a sudden the earth started shaking.
The first jolt seemed like the detonation of heavy artillery at the range at nearby Quantico Marine Base. But then the quake reached its full potential, shaking the trees back and forth quickly, dropping dead branches all around us throughout the forest.
As a class, we all hurried to the nearest clearing, with a mixture of fear and excitement. We all realized that we had just experienced a rare event for the East Coast: a 5.9-magnitude earthquake. The quake’s epicenter was in Mineral, Virginia, which is only about 30 miles from our survival class base camp.
Thankfully, there was very little damage throughout the region, and no reported casualties. A pipe broke in the Pentagon, causing some flooding. A few abandoned, yet historic, buildings were damaged in Baltimore. All things considered, we walked out of this event unscathed.
However, East Coasters responded to the quake in their usual manner, jamming up the phone lines and highways, alike. It was hours before you could get phone calls to connect, and the traffic around the Capital region looked like what you’d see on Friday of Memorial Day Weekend.
Does this unusual event lend more credence to the forecasts of heavy seismic activity for this year? Maybe, but let’s hope this is the worst we get. And there is a silver lining to this cloud: Maybe more people will learn what to do in an earthquake as a result.
And what, exactly, are you supposed to do?
• If you’re outside, stay there. But don’t hang out in a forest; you want open sky overhead.
• If you’re in a building, get outside to a spot where nothing can fall on you.
• If you absolutely cannot get outside, get under structurally reinforced areas like doorways, or stay near load-bearing walls.
• If you’re stuck inside, and can’t get under a doorway, get under a heavy table or desk.
Now that everybody on the East Coast has earthquakes on their minds, perhaps this will create a little more preparedness in the local population. Remember, we also have hurricane season upon us. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have some plans and supplies in place in the event of a bad storm, or perhaps another quake.