I had a new and unexpected experience today while in Washington DC. About 1:45 pm I was sitting in the apartment working on the laptop. All of a sudden the entire building starts shaking and swaying back and forth. Having never experienced an earthquake, I was very confused as to what had happened. I knew they had been doing construction in the building so my first thought was it had something to do with work in the building.
I finished up the project that I was working on and walked outside on the balcony to see if there was any unusual reactions from people on the street. I watched people just walking down the sidewalk and going about their normal business. Finally a lady steps off her patio and makes a comment to a meter maid about the tremble and I had my first verification that something happened.
Next step was pick up my phone and turn to Twitter to see if there was any indication on the social media site as to an earthquake in DC. News of the quake was filling my Twitter stream. Within just a few minutes I knew the epicenter and magnitude of the quake. Also knew that it was felt not only in the Washington DC area but up and down the East coast from New York down to South Carolina.
I think the earthquake in DC today, while not causing any major damage, highlights a serious problem with the transportation in the city during an emergency. The streets became gridlock as most of the people working in buildings downtown were evacuated and given the rest of the day off. The Metro system became a complete calamity. I needed to get from downtown to a meeting at Alexandria, VA. I walked into the Metro station at Farragut West and was greeted by an insanely packed platform. There were people that couldn’t even come down the escalator onto the platform because there was no more room. Every single train that pulled up was completely packed as it pulled to the station from people who had gotten on up the track. We were finally able to squeeze on to the 8th train that came through our station. As we pulled up to the next station on the route we were greeted by another extremely packed platform and couldn’t accomodate any of the travelers on our train.
It was an extremely interesting day in Washington, and I easily survived my first earthquake. I really hope that an event like this can bring attention to a much larger transportation issue in the city. If there were a serious disaster inside the city people would be trapped for a long period of time.