(Photo: The Christian Post/Amanda Winkler)
WASHINGTON – The nation's capital and surrounding areas were struck with an earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale just before 2 p.m. local time, on Tuesday, the U.S. Geological Survey announced. The epicenter was in Mineral, Va.
At approximately 1:50 p.m. local time, office buildings in Washington, D.C., began shaking, causing many employees to be evacuated shortly thereafter. After an hour of waiting outside, most employees were eventually allowed back in their office buildings.
“I was on the fourth floor of the U.S. Treasury Annex. I’ve spent a lot of time out in California, so this wasn’t that bad. But everybody (in the office) was freaking out. A lot of people didn’t know where to go or what to do,” said James Lund, an operations analyst.
Traffic lights are out in parts of the city, causing major traffic delays specifically along 14th street. Police are patrolling the area, to make sure people get to where they need to go.
All national monuments and parks in Washington are "stable but closed,” said United States Park Police spokesman Sgt. David Schlosser, according to CNN. Some minor damage has been reported, including part of the National Cathedral.
Part of the central tower of the National Cathedral, the highest point in Washington, D.C., suffered minor structural damages and some pinnacles were broken, said spokesman Richard Weinberg, according to Reuters. The central tower is 30 stories high.
The Pentagon was among the first buildings evacuated. NBC reports that after the quake, a water main broke inside the building, flooding part of two floors. People who work in those areas are being asked to stay in their offices while workers try to repair the damage.
CNN's Barbara Starr reports, "When the building began shaking rather violently, hundreds of people began streaming out." According to Starr, who was standing in the Pentagon’s press office during the time of the quake, many people thought that the building was under attack.
Social media suggests that the quake was felt all along the east coast, from Georgia to Toronto, Ontario. Sherylbagga from Toronto tweeted at 2:10 EST: “Can anyone else feel the earth shaking?!?”
In Mineral, Va., the roof of the town hall collapsed in the quake, reports MSNBC. Just 10 miles away from the epicenter, the town of Louisa experienced effects from the quake.
Gertrude Morris, who works at Smokin' Eddie's BBQ restaurant in Louisa, Va., spoke to The Christian Post about the impact the earthquake had on them there.
“It was rough,” she said. “I mean, I thought the train derailed and everything started shaking.”
She was in the middle of cleaning up the mess in the restaurant created by the quake.
Customers were hiding under tables while items were flying off of shelves, she said. The walls of the building were also cracked.
“The power went out – off and on, off and on. All I did was cut the gas off and roll under the table.”
Fortunately, no one was harmed during the event. “Everybody was fine,” Morris said.
However, everyone on the East Coast is wondering if the excitement is over.
Aftershocks are a concern, U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones told CNN. "People should be expecting [them], especially over the next hour or two," she said.
The Christian Post put in phone calls to the U.S. Park Police, Department of Defense, and National Cathedral. No calls were answered.