Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Great Virginia Earthquake of 2011

"Yes, we felt it here in North Carolina," I told a friend of mine who lives near my hometown of Roanoke, Va., via Facebook. "In fact, it knocked over a framed photograph of Dean Martin on my mantle."

I'm not sure admitting that I have a framed photograph, which is actually a still from a western film, from Dean Martin (he was a lounge crooner superstar in the '50s and '60s for those of you born when George H.W. Bush was president) is a good idea. But, the 10-12 second tremor I felt at a public library near Greensboro, NC, yesterday, was quite surprising.

I have friends and family members who were at the scene during the great Los Angeles earthquake and the horrific 1999 earthquake which devastated Istanbul, Turkey, and nearby areas, so this was nothing of that magnitude (pardon the pun). No books were flying off the library shelves nor did anyone panic. We just all starred at each other as if we were in costume at a medevial fair.

Of course, since this is the first earthquake I've experienced, and it was a surprinsgly strong 5.9, making it the strongest earthquake in Virginia since 1875, the image of the reportedly over-the-top '70s natural disaster movie "Earthquake" with Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner seems appropriate.

"The Daily Tarheel" ironically reported (it is the student-run newspaper for The University of North Carolina" that University of Virginia Kyle Guest was taking a catnap at 1:52 p.m. earthquake when a strong tremor was felt on the UVA campus. Guest said that he felt like a spaceship had landed in his house. There was reportedly far less drama on the campus of UNC in Chapel Hill, though the quake was felt there. In fact, they even felt in Bath, Maine!

The earthquake happened relatively close to Charlottesville, Va., where UVA is, in the town of Mineral in Louisa County, Va., where it completely toppled groceries at Miller's Mart.

"The Collegiate Times," the student-run newspaper for Virginia Tech, reported that Newman Library on the Virginia Tech campus was evacuated when someone pulled the fire alarm in response to the tremor. Julia Delgaudio, a Hokie student, told the CT that she thought someone was shaking her chair, but there was no one there!

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