ashakeout stories Nathan Rainey

Nathan Rainey

Ten years ago, millions of people were shocked and surprised at the sudden shaking on the afternoon of August 23, 2011. If you are wondering about this date, you are correct that this isn’t the date of the Loma Prieta earthquake.  This quake was centered about 5 miles south of Mineral, Virginia, measured 5.8 on the Richter scale, and struck at 1:51 p.m (EST).  It was felt as far north as Rhode Island, New York, and into Canada, and as far south as Florida. The shaking was felt as far west as Arkansas and Illinois. According to the USGS shaking was felt up to 600 miles away from the epicenter. This was one of the most powerful earthquakes for the east coast in history.

At the time, I was serving in the U.S. Army assigned to a part of the Joint Staff stationed in Norfolk, Va.  I remember this day vividly.  I had only just finished eating a late lunch at my desk in the Joint Force Deployment Center when my desk started moving, shaking slightly back and forth, which was a great surprise to me.  I didn’t understand what was happening, but noticed the lights hanging down from the ceiling were also swaying back and forth. As I continued to look around I saw other desks listing side to side and the confused looks of my counterparts. Those in this part of the country are well adjusted to other types of hazards but our confusion was understandable as we were not socialized to the risk of an earthquake in this area.  Did anyone Drop, Cover, and Hold On?  Nope.  We actually didn’t know what to do, so we all just sat at our desks and rode it out, for the short time our building was shaking.  Fortunately for us, this was a relatively new building so there was no damage to it; but this quake did damage a number of other seismic prone buildings in the state, Including the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral.  You can read more about this earthquake at: