By Patch Staff
A 5.9 magnitude earthquake shook Anne Arundel County Tuesday afternoon, confusing and startling many residents, but causing no reported injuries and minor structural damage.
The earthquake, centered near Mineral, VA, outside of Richmond, started around 1:51 p.m. and was followed by two aftershocks: a 2.8 magnitude quake at 2:46 and a 2.2 magnitude quake at 3:20 p.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
"We are relieved that no widespread injuries or property damage resulted from this unusual event," County Executive Leopold said in a written statement. "We do want to urge citizens as they return home to be aware aftershocks can occur, and to use caution when entering their homes."
Baltimore-Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie along with Anne Arundel Medical Center, the and the Heritage Office Complex on Riva Road in Annapolis were inspected and cleared for entry. County offices and parks closed at 2 p.m. Tuesday, but are expected to open on time on Wednesday.
Some students in Anne Arundel County were reportedly instructed to take cover under their desks during the quake, which happened just before high schools dismissed at 2:05 p.m. High school students were evacuated shortly thereafter and put on the buses.
According to a written statement from Bob Mosier, schools spokesman for Anne Arundel County, all school buildings were evacuated. Students were allowed to re-enter school buildings as they were determined to be clear from damage.
Schools dismissed on time, but all activities scheduled at county school buildings Tuesday night were canceled.
As of 2:30 p.m., state police received no reports of serious injuries, but troopers were on patrol across the state to check for injuries to citizens and major damage, according to a news release.
Downtown Annapolis was rattled by the tremors, which damaged some older buildings, including a chimney at bar on Dock Street and a partial roof collapse at the on Forest Drive. Those areas, in addition to portions of Main Street and Duke of Gloucester Street, were blocked off to residents and visitors by yellow tape.
“The older structures typically are what we’re seeing trouble with,” said Battalion Chief John Menassa of the Annapolis Fire Department.
Jane Campbell-Chambliss, who owns three Dock Street businesses including , which is next door to Armadillo's, said she has lived in Annapolis all her life and has never seen anything like this.
She said her thoughts initially went to Sept. 11, thinking there had been another attack.
“And I’m thinking, what was that? And I thought, we’ve been invaded again, but Mother Nature was the invader this time.”
In Odenton, many residents were still trying to figure how to get home as the evening rush hour approached and MARC train suspended service. Most residents said they felt the shaking of the quake at home, but did not see serious damage.
Maria Avellaneda said in a comment on Odenton Patch that she was working on her computer in her home, when she felt a thumping noise. She thought it was her stepson jumping up and down.
“I was about to scold him, when he said ‘let’s go out, there’s an earthquake,’” she said. “Things started falling in the house and we rushed out to the yard while the house [continued] to shake and [rattle.]"
Lisa Jean was at Piney Orchard Elementary School to attend a conference for her daughter, who will be entering kindergarten. She was outside when "all of the sudden, the stroller started shaking."
"We realized it was an earthquake," she said. "This is probably the biggest one I've ever felt."
Robin Failli of Piney Orchard was working in Annapolis when the earthquake hit. She and co-workers were stunned and motionless for a short while, before running out of the building.
"We work in an old building ... we often say it might collapse in on itself even when there isn't an earthquake," she said.
Failli battled heavy traffic to return home early, and spend part of Tuesday afternoon at the Baskin-Robbins with her mother, Shelly Sypes, and her two young daughters, Sasha and Gillian. Sypes was watching the girls when the earthquake hit.
"I just grabbed the kids and ran. We didn't even have any shoes on," Sypes said. "All of the neighbors were outside in a panic."
In Pasadena, residents were excited by the unusual event, but there seemed to be no serious damage in the area.
"People just aren't coming in saying they need to fix their shelves, their ceilings, anything like that," said Ace Hardware manager Steve Shoemaker. "There hasn't really been any public response to it."
Residents commenting on the Pasadena Patch Facebook site, echoed similar sentiments.
"Stuff fell off the shelves and off the wall," wrote Ashley Swift on Facebook. "The baby didn't even notice."
The earthquake shook Crofton residents out of their homes and into the streets to check on fellow neighbors. Crofton Highlands’ brothers , but they were not afraid.
Crofton Town Manager Larry Schweinsburg said about a dozen calls came into town hall minutes after the earthquake.
“So far, we haven’t had any reports of major damage,” Schweinsburg said.
In Glen Burnie, many residents expressed fear and disbelief that they could have experienced an earthquake.
"My nerves are a wreck, I think I was in shock when it happened. I just sat here and looked at my walls in my basement apartment shake," said Cindy Perrone on the Glen Burnie Patch Facebook page.
Glen Burnie resident William Turner said he'd never experienced anything like it.
"Everything just started going everywhere," he said. "I felt like the whole apartment was going around, like, in circles—back and forth, to and fro. It was wicked, know what I mean?"
Tracy Spriggs, 46, was in her Severn home checking Facebook when the quake started.
"There was a rumble and I thought it was a big truck going by," Spriggs said. "Then it kept doing it and I ran outside. When I checked the news, they said it was like a 5.8 and people in Toronto felt it."
Over at Arundel Mills mall, shoppers apparently thought the earthquake was an explosion at the Maryland LIVE! construction site.
"Everyone in Burlington Coat Factory thought it was an explosion from the construction in the same parking lot," said shopper Kat Eltzroth. "My mom and I ran out the door and noticed a steel beam in the work zone was dropped."
Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport was open following the earthquake, but travelers were warned that there could be flight delays and to contact airlines for specific flight information. No damage was detected at the airport, according to a news release.
The earthquake was felt across the Broadneck Peninsula, from Anne Arundel Community College where walls were described as moving “like Jell-O” to Cape St. Claire where readers reported that Graul’s Market closed for a bit to clean up the aisles and Bella’s Liquors reportedly had bottles broken after they hit the floor. Others reported being on the road not knowing why their “car seemed to be shaking like water in bowl.” Councilman Dick Ladd’s rezoning meeting, scheduled for Tuesday night at Broadneck High, will be rescheduled, as all activities at schools, including high school athletic practices, were canceled.
Kim Hubbard felt the rumbling while working at Admiral Cleaners on McKinsey Road in Severna Park.
"I've never experienced anything like that,” she said. “It sounded like a freight train went through."
In Edgewater, Davidsonville and southern Anne Arundel County, the quake was felt at commercial establishments including the three grocery stores, homes and even at a community pool. One of the lifeguards at Southdown Pool, Kevin, was sitting in the lifeguard chair when he felt the chair moving. Ellie Thompson of Harwood wrote to Edgewater Patch in an email, "it shook the houses and my neighbor said it shook some things off of her wall. All the neighbors came out."
Dawn Dellinger knew it was a tremor at her home in Edgewater.
"I felt it big time!" she said.
Tracy Cline Garren had the most common sentiment, "that was scary!"