5.9 Earthquake Hits Virginia
Residents felt the ground shaking just before 2 p.m.
A 5.9 earthquake centered near Mineral, VA rocked the area just before 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday and was felt all along the East Coast.
The U.S. Geological Survey rated the earthquake a 5.9 and said it originated 9 miles from Mineral.
Dale City residents reported feeling the ground shaking and seeing cars and buildings move.
Brian Heffron, assistant Principal at Saunders Middle School, said he had just gotten out of the car when he felt the ground shake. "You could literally see the building moving from the outside," Heffron said.
Heffron walked around the building to check for damage or gas leaks, but said there was none apparent.
Patricia Purdy was working the polls for the Republican primary at Saunders. "The doors were shaking like something was going to come through," she said. "We were told to go under the tables, but some of us if we went under, we wouldn't be able to get out."
Eileen Kurtz, the assistant chief officer working the polls at Saunders, said she had immediately gotten under a table—with the emergency instruction manual. Poll workers initially began shutting down voting machines according to emergency protocol, but said the polls would have remained open.
Hylton High School Principal David Cassady said people in the office weren't initially sure what was going on. "It took us a second to realize it wasn't kids running upstairs," he said. Hylton dismissed children who were at the school for band camp and other activities, and ended the day's new teacher training early. The school also canceled evening activities.
Shantina James said she was at the mall outside in the parking lot and saw cars moving. "The cars were just dancing," she said.
Officer Jonathan Perok from Prince William County police said that he was not aware of any major incidents that had occurred because of the quake.
Joan Morris with Virginia Department of Transportation said in an email, "We have no reports of road or bridge damage right now but thought I’d give you a quick heads up that our bridge crews will be checking on bridges rest of today and tomorrow. We will first check out bridges on 'rocker bearings.' I am not sure how many of those bridges we have – I should know in an hour. Those bridges are from the 60s, maybe early 70s and the roller bearing could tilt if damaged. Crews will check out bridges in Prince William County first as that area is closer to the epicenter."
Sentara Potomac Hospital reports that everything is operational and there is no structural damage and no injuries.
The Prince William County government said that minor structural damage, gas leaks and water leaks had been reported in some areas, but no injuries have been reported so far. Communications Director Jason Grant said residents should check their homes for damage. If there are cracks greater than 1/4 inch, excessive bowing of walls, ceilings or floorboards, or the smell of natural gas, residents should immediately evacuate the building and call 911.