Office workers gather on the sidewalk in downtown Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011, moments after a 5.9 magnitude tremor shook the nation's capitol. The earthquake centered northwest of Richmond, Va., shook much of Washington, D.C., and was felt as far north as Rhode Island and New York City. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
"I know it sounds crazy but the house, floors were shaking," Alison Elgaard wrote to us this afternoon.
Nope, not crazy at all. In fact, the 5.8 earthquake near Mineral and Louisa, Va., was felt across the greater D.C. area shortly before 2 p.m., which prompted evacuation of the Pentagon and Capitol.
In fact, shocked residents everywhere from South Carolina to Canada felt the effects, and local responses are flooding in:
"Lasted about 30+ seconds -- shook house strongly. I'd say could be as much as 5.0," Steve White tells us.
Kevin Traub felt it in the Annapolis area. "My wife also felt it [in] Dunkirk," he writes.
And Jane Przygocki wrote us, "Earthquake just felt here in Germantown. Seemed like it went on for 1-2 minutes!"
Cheryl in Annadale said she felt it only for about 20 seconds, but David Previti probably would have been happy with 20 seconds. "It lasted 5 minutes [with] our house moving back n' forth," he wrote.
The time residents seemed to experience the quake may have varied. In Alexandria, Mike Bingham felt it around at 1:54 p.m. Carrie Louise Hovell said she felt it around 1:46 p.m.
DID YOU FEEL THAT?
"[T]he whole house started shaking," wrote Audrey Leak Coates of Laurel, Md. "Closet doors opened and items started falling out on the floor. We had to hold the computer and televisions still. Did not recognize it as an earthquake so we did not go outside [or] stand in a doorway." They were just puzzled, she said.
"My mirrors were shaking..." writes Susan Howard of Winchester, Va. "It came from underneath and at first, I thought maybe my cat had come upstairs. Then, it became clear to me that it wasn't my cat. ...It scared me really bad. I knew it had to be [an earthquake] but then I thought, maybe someone was using some construction equipment, for some unknown reason. Then, I came downstairs and tuned in to NBC4 and saw that we had a earthquake. My husband and son felt it in Richmond, too."
California transplant Mary "Mike" Anderson, now of Front Royal, Va., realized early on what it was. "I actually 'heard' the beginning of it, immediately thought 'earthquake' and headed for a doorway. Knew it was at least a 5.0, and it was a LONG one even by California standards."
Kasey Jo Kuhlenbeck of Clifton, Va., had a whole lot of shaking going on -- "The earthquake minutes ago shook my house and caused things to fall from the shelves!! ...Wow!!"
Sherri Morris was at work on the sixth floor in downtown Falls Church, Va. "The top floor was swaying back and forth," she wrote. "...When I got home ...the TV in upstairs bedroom was crashed on floor!
Paula Sweeney said her dishes were rattling. "I thought maybe my furnace or water cooler were exploding," she told us. "I have looked outside now and a decorative column in my backyard was literally shaken apart. I have no landline or cell service apparently because of the earthquake."
Joe Nelson now has no cell phone service. "I felt it in Laurel, Md. Knocked pictures off the wall."
(See more damage reports here.)
Many people who wrote in told us their cats and dogs were thoroughly alarmed by the shaking. But Jennifer Vo's pooch one-ups them all.
"For the past two days our golden retriever mix has been refusing to go outside, and when we forced her out she would sniff at the air and ground frantically with her tail between her legs," Vo wrote. "Usually she spends the whole day outside running and enjoying the sunshine, so we knew something was wrong; we think she knew about the earthquake days before we did!"
John Gondeck was in Denton on the Eastern Shore of Maryland "standing on the pool deck when things started to rattle, and the next thing I felt the whole pool, concrete deck and all begin to shift causing ripples in the pool going from side to side. Never had that before and don't want to see it again."
Bonnie Eubank of Lovettsville, Va., writes, "The water in the pool (an above ground pool) was shaking. My dog even seemed upset and was circling the room aware that something was going on! Just then my brother from Delaware called saying, 'Did you just feel that?' He felt it out on the eastern shore of Delaware, said his house was shaking."
Cindy Smith of Budscreek, Md., had pool issues, too. "We felt it hard. My inground pool completely sloshed over, fish pond water splashed over its banks. Dogs went crazy."
INSIDE THE NATIONAL CATHEDRAL
Sam Fisher, of Bluemont, Va., was on his first visit to the National Cathedral with his mother Julie when the walls started moving.
He was in the gift shop at the time. "I was kind of scared when it happened, everybody just hurried out," he said. "When it started happening, there was stuff falling off the shelves, there were mugs in front of me that fell and shattered at my feet."
His mom didn't know at first what was going on. "At first I thought it was a subway car going by, but then I realized that there wasn’t any subway around here," she said. "The floors were actually rolling, you could see the walls were going in and out, and then all the stuff started falling down. Then I thought this was a definitely an earthquake and we need to get out of here."