Ok, so today’s quake didn’t come close to the tsunami that knocked the earth off its axis a few years ago. It has not caused much damage at all, so it’s nothing like the quakes felt out in California. But it caused mass panic in the D.C. area, the mass transit systems came to all but a screeching halt, and office and government buildings were evacuated all over the metropolitan area.

And…I felt the first earthquake I’ve ever felt in my entire life. I’m not ashamed to say that it scared the daylights out of me. Not because things fell off the walls or windows broke, because they didn’t. As a matter of fact, I think that’s what caused the most distress: I was feeling my world shake and there was no explanation for it. After the first few seconds of rumbling, I realized this was something more than a large truck careening by on the nearby highway. The rumbling became worse and the floor started shaking under my feet. At that point, I didn’t care if I looked like the idiot I felt like; I grabbed my bag and literally RAN out of the office. I didn’t look out the window to find the cause, as others in my office did. I didn’t wonder what could be causing the floor to feel like it was crumbling under my feet.

As I was heading out of the office, the office-wide intercom squawked to life and the emphatic voice came over the speakers: “This is NOT a drill! EVACUATE the building!” Although the announcer didn’t say it, I swear I also heard, “This means NOW!!” The stairwells were packed and it took an inordinate amount of time for me to even get to the stairs. I don’t want to say I panicked, but images of the masses of people trying to escape the Twin Towers filled my head and I felt adrenaline start pumping, making my hands shake as I was (calmly, I must say) waiting for my turn to hit the stairs.

As we were making our mass exodus through the doors into the parking lot, I heard the radio of a security guard at the door. The person on the other end mentioned reports of a low-flying plane in the area. I looked at my colleague and he looked at me. Almost in perfect unison, we blurted out, “I DON’T THINK SO!”

As soon as I got the chance, I sent a text to my step-daughter asking if she was alright. She responded right away that she was fine but worried about me – she tried to call me at work three times right after the earthquake and got no answer.

That’s when I cried.



  1. Not making light of what you felt -by any means- — totally understand. I grew up in the SF Bay Area where eartherquakes were almost routine occurances – and later lived many years in Southern Californa; where most of us slept through the high 3’s (scale). With LA County Sheriff (Aero) I worked the Slymar quake and a couple of others that shook close to that one – I -did not- sleep through those. . . anyway, sorry you had to expereince that – not fun.

  2. So, the over-riding conclusion from the quake is that you are OK. That was very good to hear and the crying after the phone call; much better to let it out than store and stew.
    From reading what you said about the evacuation of the building, you wonder how many casualties during an earthquake are caused by the, understandable, panic of people trying to get out of a building. It only takes a few to start pushing, barging their way out, knocking people over, to start the rapid spread of mass panic.
    Do not be too hard on yourself for being scared, that feeling gives you that extra energy to do what you have to do.
    So, my friend, Wolf with an ‘e’, is OK, and that gives me a reason to smile.

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