Yesterday, Tuesday, August 23, 2011, at approximately 1:51 pm Eastern time, the entire Mid-Atlantic region experienced an earthquake. Preliminary reports from the US Geological Survey indicate that it measured 5.9 on the Richter scale and was centered near Mineral, Va., approximately 80 miles south of Washington, DC.
Mayor Vincent C. Gray and his public-safety team, along with other members of his cabinet convened at the District’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, located in the Unified Communications Center, to assess the situation and coordinate the City’s response.
As a result of the earthquake, all non-essential District personnel were released for the day to allow crews to inspect District buildings for structural damage. Essential personnel remained on duty. Libraries were closed for the remainder of the day and there were reports of minor damage at several DC Public School buildings. Mayor Gray says, “To ensure our students safety, we have deployed engineering crews to schools throughout the District, to conduct assessments.”
Be prepared for aftershocks. Although smaller than the main shock, aftershocks cause additional damage and may bring weakened structures down. Aftershocks can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the quake.
Please see the Earthquake Fact Sheet to learn about protective measures you can take before, during and after an earthquake.
Today the District of Columbia government opened and employees were expected to report on time. DC Public Schools were closed as assessments of all schools continue.
Recreation centers will open with normal operations. All recreation facilities that have activities starting at 6:00am have been inspected and cleared for occupancy and use. Facilities that open at noon will be inspected by the scheduled opening time. Any closures will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Residents needing assistance should call 311. If there is an emergency, call 911. MPD released the following tips for residents:
- An earthquake of yesterday’s magnitude may break gas, electrical, and water lines.
- If you smell gas, you should open window shut off the main gas valve, and do not turn any electrical appliances or lights on or off. Report suspected gas leaks immediately to 9-1-1 and leave the building. Once you have exited your building, do not re-enter the building until a utility official has declared it safe for entry.
- Should you experience electrical wire shortages, shut off the main breaker box.
- If water pipes are damaged, shut off the supply at the main valve to avoid household floods.
- Those with chimneys should have them inspected for cracks and damages.
- Should you have to relocate due to safety concerns, if possible, collect all family vital documents and any needed medications. Be sure to check on elderly neighbors and report to our Yahoo Police Groups any suspicious activity.
During an emergency or disaster, stay calm. Get prepared before an emergency or disaster by having an emergency plan. Visit the Be Ready DC site at http://72hours.dc.gov. Stay informed by tuning to your local TV and radio stations for updates and instructions. Register for Alert DC to receive emergency alerts http://alert.dc.gov.
For updates or to report a problem, call the Mayor’s Citywide Call Center at 311. For power outages, call Pepco’s 24-Hour Outage Report Line at 1-877-737-2662. For downed wires, call Pepco immediately at 202-872-3432. Visit the District’s website at www.dc.gov for updates. For additional emergency preparedness information, visit the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency at www.hsema.dc.gov.