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Virginia's strongest earthquake in more than a century rumbled from beneath the center of the state Tuesday, shaking nearly one-third of the country, evacuating schools, sending office workers running and flooding 911 call centers.
Did you feel it?
I did — and I'm not ashamed to say that following more than 20 seconds of my knees knocking (literally) I still wasn't convinced I'd actually experienced an earthquake.
Um... a very large truck speeding through Coal Creek. More likely.
My house collapsing? Possibly.
Up until Tuesday afternoon, the highlight of my week had been a five-minute duet with the Little Girl in the privacy of our 1998 Chevy Metro. Our version of Queen's “Bohemian Rhapsody” is rockin', the Little Girl says.
Know what else was rockin'?
Around 1:51 p.m... when I felt the vibrations from a magnitude 5.9 earthquake centered near Mineral, a town about 150 miles northeast of Roanoke, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Vibrations from 3.7 miles beneath the surface spread across 22 states from Maine to South Carolina and west to Chicago and Ontario, Canada.
Here's how my first — and I hope my only — earthquake experience went down.
Tuesday is my “day off.” Please note the quotation marks.
My mother and I are standing on my back deck, enjoying the beautiful autumn-like weather.
“Gosh. What was that,” my mother asks.
My back is to the pond, I hear the splash though, and turn to see ripples in the water.
“I don't know. Maybe a frog.” I watch the ripples morph into choppy dark waves, similar to a boat's wake.
From the look of those swells, big frog... a giant frog?
“Whatever it was, it must've been big,” I say. “Look at that.”
“I bet it was a snake,” my mother says.
“Good, Lord. I hope not. Snakes don't splash... do they?”
“Look,” she points. “You can see the shadow.”
“Maybe it's the Loch Ness Monster.” We giggle... until a low rumble and the rattling of my husband's Man's Man Grill cuts through our amusement.
“What is —“
“Oh my —“
We both stop speaking as the deck begins to bounce and sway.
“What is that?” My mother asks.
“We're shaking,” I answer, because apparently I'm the Queen of Obvious.
“What is it?” She asks again.
“An explosion,” I suggest. “Do you think something exploded?” I feel panic rise inside me. “Maybe it's a bomb. Or my propane tank. You think it's something downstairs?”
We stare at each other, shaking like little Weebles.
Um... dare I say it... is it possible. “Earthquake?” I whisper.
“Yes,” my mother nods. “I bet it is.”
As suddenly as the shaking begins, it stops. It's very quiet.
It's the calm before the storm.
The Facebook, text and email messages and phone calls begin.
Everyone has a story to share.
Add a comment to this article or find The Declaration on Facebook to share your earthquake experiences with the newspaper. Comments may be used for an upcoming feature in The Declaration's online and print editions.
Landmark News Service contributed to this story.