Flashback to the Eastcoast Earthquake 1 Year Ago Today: Did You Leave Your Building?

Ok, flashback to 1 year ago today’s Eastcoast Earthquake – – – did you leave your building?

Last year during the Eastcoast Earthquake, August 23, 2011 (one of the largest to occur in this region in the last century), what did I, and my 12 or so other GovLoop and GovDelivery co-workers do? We filed outside our building onto 15th street. By quick glance, it was pretty much what everyone else in Washington DC did that day.


We’re on the Eastcoast. And hence pretty much all the preparedness training we’ve had for emergencies is for a firedrill. What do you do in a firedrill? Calmly file outside (via the stairs). What do you do in an earthquake? NOT FILE OUTSIDE VIA THE STAIRS.

The majority of people during earthquakes get injured from falling concrete, glass, etc. Stay where you are.

What did this tell us about our earthquake preparedness? A majority of people on the east coast have really no clear idea about what to do in an earthquake.

This is why I’m here today.

Probably the best thing you can do now to prevent this lack of education going forward is to join The National Preparedness Coalition Online Community. This community is all about sharing and collaborating about natural and man-made disaster preparedness education.

So, since you’re probably still wondering – – what are you supposed to do in an earthquake? 1. Drop 2. Take cover (under a desk or study piece of furniture) 3. Hold on till the shaking stops.


I learned all this, and a lot more at a press conference this morning that was held on the grassy lawn in front of the Washington Monument. The goal of the press conference was to share info about:

  • Rebuilding and recovery efforts of destruction that happened to major landmarks in Washington DC
  • Current earthquake threats in the Southeast region
  • Upcoming National Capital Region “ShakeOut” earthquake drill
  • Earthquake preparedness steps
  • National Preparedness Month – which starts September 1!

When I arrived at the press conference, there were some fantastic posters that outlined data about the Eastcoast Earthquake:

Then several speakers such as Marcia McNutt, Director of USGS and Tim Manning, Deputy Administrator from FEMA, went on talk about why this earthquake was so dangerous in the DC region, what the earthquake told us, and why it is so critical we prepare our community for unexpected disasters like this. The best thing we can all take away from this is to participate in the upcoming (and largest) earthquake drill in history. So, please join us on October 18, 10:18am. You can register at http://www.shakeout.org/southeast/. There are currently over 10 million expected to participate.

Join us!

Again, please join us the Community.FEMA.gov community and join the Southeast ShakeOut!

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Terrence (Terry) Hill

I confess – I also left my building a year ago, but honestly we didn’t even suspect it was an earthquake. We thought it was a large explosion. After all, most of us have never encountered an earthquake. Thanks for the tip on pledging and the Great Southeast Shakeout. Just in time for September – National Preparedness Month. We all should prepare for disasters, both at work and at home. Most people don’t have plans or even “go-kits” for their offices or homes. A few years ago, we purchased these kits, including masks, water, first aid supplies, a whistle, etc., for all of our employees. The Red Cross has some great kits available for purchase online.

David B. Grinberg

Thanks for sharing that important info, Lauren. Sounds like it was a great press event. Did they, by chance, play that old song, “Shake, Rattle and Roll”?


Honestly I had no idea what to do – at first we freaked, and then decided it wasn’t a big deal, and then we evacuated. Was an odd day

David Dejewski

Lauren, I left my building that day too! I had no idea what to do, but I knew I didn’t want to be inside for things to fall on my head. I’ve been learning about earthquakes from more experienced Californians – who usually laugh first, then give me the real scoop.
I endorse the National Preparedness Coalition. My company is a member and we’re having fun with it. We’ve already started getting the word out in preparation for September 1. There’s lot’s of material for office, home, geriatric and preparedness for people with disabilities available. Interesting, all of it!
I also started a community Web site similar to GovLoop, but for people with a focused interest on preparedness: community outreach, emergency medicine, etc. People can check it out at http://CommunityPreparedness.net. Membership is free.
I set this up after joining my neighborhood Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), as a way to give back, leverage some of my personal talents, and promote preparedness. We’re hosting a membership drive from September 1st through September 30th. Hand-made survival bracelets (made by one of our talented members), in cool colors, will be awarded to existing members who bring in the most new members during that time.

Lauren Modeen

@Dave – thanks for sharing your experience and for pointing me to that community! I am trying to find all the preparedness communities out there, and this is super helpful!