Day After the Quake

One major quake and four aftershocks later, the region is picking up the pieces on Wednesday.

Tuesday's major earthquake centered in Mineral, Va., registered 5.8 on the Richter scale, shaking residents up and down the East Coast for more than half a minute.  Four smaller quakes followed, the strongest was a 4.2-magnitude aftershock about 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Amy Vaughan from the U.S. Geological Survey told the Associated Press the number of aftershocks so far has been low.  She advised that residents can expect more aftershocks over the coming days or possibly over a period of weeks.

Schools that just opened their doors in D.C. and Maryland closed down Wednesday, and schools set to open and Virginia pushed back their opening days.  For a full run down of closures, click here.

In addition, numerous federal agencies asked workers to stay home and telecommute.  Check in for guidance for individual agencies from the Office of Personnel Management here.  Metro trains were running normally, but MARC train riders should expect delays between 10 and 20 minutes.  Part of the ceiling in Union Station did fall down, sending riders running but not causing any injuries.

In Prince George's County, hundreds were left homeless after the quake shook an apartment complex.  The building in Temple Hills along Good Hope Road was deemed structurally unsound and closed because of earthquake damage.  About 250 residents were ordered out of another building along Curtis Drive.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said two nuclear reactors at the North Anna Power Station were taken off line automatically as a precaution.  The plant is less than 10 miles from the epicenter.  A dozen other nuclear facilities on the East Coast declared an "unusual event" after the earthquake, the lowest rating on the NRC's emergency classification system.

Colonial Pipeline, which runs major natural gas pipeline in Virginia and across the East Coast said they completed an inspection of their equipment in Virginia.  No damage was detected, and after a brief shutdown, delivery of gas, kerosene, heating oil and diesel fuel was back online at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, the company said.

The Park Service said that contrary to a rumor swirling on the Internet Tuesday, the Washington Monument was not tilting after the earthquake. However, engineers did find cracking near the top of the monument, and it remains closed.

The Park Service also says all other monuments and memorials that were closed right after the earthquake will reopen Wednesday.

The earthquake was centered about 80 miles southwest of D.C. It was felt from the Georgia to Canada and the Midwest. Experts said because the East Coast's tectonic plates are older, colder and more intact than the West Coast, quakes here are felt across a much wider area. 

This quake took place in the Central Virginia Seismic Zone, which last produced a notable earthquake in 1875, when a 4.5 earthquake occured.  The strongest earthquake ever on the East Coast was recorded in 1886, when a 7.3-magnitude quake hit Charleston, S.C.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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