Hey all. I am here in DC (but from Ojai, CA) so it was pretty funny watching everyone freak out. Also of note, I commuted to work on the TW yesterday--crossing back over the Memorial Bridge on the way home, I thought I was entering a post-apocalyptic movie set (maybe Transformers 8). All the DC gov't workers walking to their homes in NoVA, heads hanging low, worried eyes. Hahaha.
For us So Cal'ers the last big quake we've had was a 7 that hit the Cal/Mex border a year and half ago. I'm 150 miles away and that quake rolled for what seemed like a minute. I was starting to get seasick. Having said that I'll take an earthquake over tornadoes or hurricanes any day.
With regard to the nature of building construction, I agree with Lizrdbrth. Our home (a brick townhouse constructed in 1906) could be heard cracking during the quake. My neighbors all have similar accounts too. The infrastructure out here (the stuff underground and in the walls) was old to begin with, and was not ever intended to withstand quakes. I am sure some of the damage with "come to light" this winter when the temps swing.
Must have been a slow news day. Newspapers featuring pictures of people looking at quake damage such as a cracked window, a ..., uh, ..., nevermind. The pictures of the absolutely horrified and crying government works in DC streets are priceless. Reporters had to find a women with 7 children and two grandchildren, all at home at 1:21 in the afternoon on a weekday, to find someone to decribe the fear. I think the fact that all 7 of the woman's children were home at 1:21 on a weekday afternoon might be a clue to the validity of the report.
Reports of people running out of glass and brick multi-story buildings while the shaking was going on. Not very smart, considering if the the glass or mortar was shaking enough to break, the results would not be pretty. I predict a major bailout of insurance companies as people report pre-existing damage from neglected foundations that have been settling for years as earthquake damage.
It doesn't take much at all for a quake to destroy a masonry building. Seems counterintuitive, but they mostly attempt to absorb the shock whereas a stick-built or timber frame tends to dissipate it.
Safest place to be in a hurricane, but among the worst in a quake.
When my east coast relatives show up out here they view our houses as cheaply constructed and insubstancial because they're used to brick and mortar. I got a call from one who lives in a Baltimore row house this morning. Now they get it. lol. Who knew?
Wood frame and stucco. It might crack but it won't break and come down. I don't care how big or long the earthquake is.
I moved to Boston in '72 and lived there 6 years before returning to Calif. I remember looking out over the city at all the brick buildings. My thoughts then were "if a big earthquake strikes here it is going to be a big mess." My other thought was if you had the brick concession you would only need to profit about a penny a brick to be fabulously wealthy.
And I too would rather "suffer" an earthquake than a tornado or hurricane.
Stick built and anything will usually survive a quake if the foundation remains under the walls. If not, SF Bay area during the baseball game. Also, the structure of the soil horizons under a building plays a major part.
Great reaction to a slight shaking of the ground. I thought it was just another blast from the quarry down the road. No big deal. It's just like when it snows an inch in Texas, people freak the f*ck out.