Anniversary of 2011 Eastcoast Earthquake: Were You Prepared?

If you live on the east coast, you remember, probably perfectly, what you were doing sometime around 2pm on August 23. I for sure do. I was sitting at my desk here at GovLoop wondering why in the heck our office was shaking like an amusement park ride.

That August 23 earthquake that stretched from Mineral, VA, all the way up the east coast had an estimated magnitude of 5.8. Holy heck! My friends in NYC, Boston, and Providence experienced a few min later freaking out pretty much everyone, and resulting in a TON of tweets (check out this animated map).

Seeing that I’m from the east coast, and never experienced first hand an earthquake before, I really had no precise knowledge of how to protect myself. And I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone in that. Luckily for everyone, no deaths and only minor injuries were reported. But things could have been very different. What would have happened if that earthquake was a 7, 8, or 9?

These days, I am working on a project with FEMA to help build and empower a community with the goal of helping to prepare our country for man-made and natural disasters. Called the National Preparedness Coalition Online Community, this online community is bringing people together to learn and prepare for disasters, so we are all better off in situations like these.

Here’s my ask of you. Please join. The community is open and free for anyone, and you’ll gain some critical information that might help one day save your life. This is the kind of thing that you can’t leave up to others to teach you. You have to empower yourself, your family, and even help empower your friends and coworkers. Once something happens, it’s too late.

Are you already into preparedness? If so, do you have a preparedness event going on in your area? For you folks, please add your event to the calendar for everyone to see. You are helping in a simple, incredible way.

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Samuel Lovett

Looks good. I know that is a good resource to reference during an emergency, and as you said, even better to be familiar with in advance

Scott Horvath

One of the saddest things to see is how people around the country were not aware of how to safely react to an earthquake…they ran out of their buildings and houses. Another thing they did was stand inside a door frame…both are the worst things you can do during an earthquake.

The things you should do are Drop, Cover, and Hold On.

Running out of a building puts you in harms way…you could fall from shaking, debris could fall in your path or on top of you, others can get hurt. Standing in a door frame is also not smart. Most door frames are not reinforced…especially in homes. Cookie cutter home construction has made weak door frames a reality and they are no stronger than other parts of the house…it’s always best to get under a table, next to furniture that won’t topple, or against a solid wall if there’s no other option. Even if you’re in bed…stay in bed and cover yourself with a pillow. You can learn a lot about what to do and what not to do from this site.

Lauren Modeen

Thanks for the input, Scott! I just shared those basic tips with my co-workers who are largely from the east coast and need them.

Carol Davison

Lauren, thank you for doing this. In addition to the earthquake we’ve only recently began having tornados in this area. I had to think about what to do during a tornado watch. It would be great if employees were able to receive tweets or texts from their employer regarding snow emergencies, earthquakes, etc because I believe that only 80% of Americans have computers. I believe its more effective and efficient to send messages to employees rather than having them all call in on the inclement weather line. Also, you can receive texts and tweets while driving to the office. For example if on the way to work you learn that the Department of Commerce’s Hoover building had a fire and is closed you don’t have to go in. Or if there is a snow emergency and the DC federal government is opening two hours late, you can pull into a McDonalds and stay warm with a coffee rather than standing at the train station. The Washington Metro system emails its customers regarding its status such as delays on the Red Line to Sliver Spring or elevators out at Metro station to faciliate customers’ comfort and travel.