'I just felt the ground moving'

Washington County residents share their experiences with Tuesday's quake

August 23, 2011|By DAN DEARTH and HEATHER KEELS |

James Greenfield was lying in bed when Tuesday's earthquake rocked his fourth-floor apartment at The Dagmar on Summit Avenue in Hagerstown.

"There were two separate shakes and neither one of them were slouches," Greenfield said. "The whole bed was rocking. I didn't know what it was at first, then turned on CNN and found that an earthquake hit."

Greenfield said he rushed outside because he didn't feel safe in his apartment.

The preliminary magnitude 5.8 quake was reported at 1:51 p.m., according to the United States Geological Survey. The epicenter was about nine miles south of Mineral, Va., roughly 123 miles south of Hagerstown.

Thurman Beavers of Hagerstown said the vibrations were strong enough in his seventh-floor apartment to knock him to the floor from the couch where he had been lying.

"My wall just starts shaking like this," Beavers said, rocking his hand back and forth. "And the next thing I know, I'm on the floor, wondering how I got there."

Beavers was interested to learn the epicenter of the earthquake had been near Mineral, Va., where he had previously had relatives.

"I've been there before," he said of the town. "Not much down there."

Gary Yeakle said he was sitting on a stoop painting a building at 49 N. Potomac St. in Hagerstown when the earthquake struck.

"I just felt the ground moving," Yeakle said. "At least I wasn't on a ladder when all of that was going on."

A few minutes later, Yeakle was on a ladder.

"I'm only a floor up," he said. "I'm not that scared."

Ronald Franck said he was at home in Waynesboro, Pa., brushing his teeth when he felt a strange sensation and had to grip the counter to keep from falling over.

"I had never felt anything like that," he said. "I thought my knees were buckling."

Franck said his neighbor Daniel Gill called soon afterward and said he had felt it, too. As word of the earthquake spread, Gill learned his girlfriend felt the quake in Queens, N.Y., and Franck learned his sister felt it in North Carolina.

Tammy Gangestad of Hagerstown emailed her impressions to The Herald-Mail.

"I along with coworkers at United Optical off Wesel Blvd. felt it," she wrote. "I am still uneasy about the whole thing. I at first thought it was (a) truck doing something weird. Then the windows shook then the desks and floors."

She said her daughter and stepmother on Eastern Boulevard "called and asked if we felt it, and she was in a three-story building. My brother working in Rockville at Milestone Giant had things break and messes all over" the aisles.

"By far, that was a first and hopefully a last for me," Gangestad wrote.

However, some city residents said they didn't know there had been an earthquake.

Sandi Haines and her son, Jerry DeSong, said they didn't feel a thing while they watched movies Tuesday afternoon in their Summit Avenue apartment.

When interviewed as they walked downtown, Haines said she believed the occurrence was a sign that the end of the world was coming.

"Look what's going on in the world," she said. "I feel kind of leery. I don't want to be alive when the end comes."


Did you feel the quake?

At 1:51 p.m. Tuesday, a rare earthquake centered northwest of Richmond, Va., rippled through the Tri-State area. If you would like to read what area residents felt, or add your own experience, see the comments section under the earthquake story on The Herald-Mail's website at

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