I feel the Earth move under my feet

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Andrew Krzmarzick 8 years, 5 months ago.

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  • #105799

    AJ Malik

    This morning’s mild earthquake, in the DC metro region, reminds us that no one, not even Gov, is immune to the forces of nature; and brings home the necessity for disaster recovery and business continuity planning and execution. Is your organization prepared in the event of a catastrophic event, man made or natural? Does your organization have a disaster recovery/business continuity strategy? If so, does your organization regularly test and evaluate your plans by simulating disasters?

  • #105811

    Here’s the WTOP account of it:

  • #105809

    Stephen Peteritas

    I haven’t been able to find someone who actually felt it.

  • #105807

    Denise Hill

    I felt it. It woke me up. The whole house shook. I have added this to my “bucket list” and checked it off. No need to do that again.

  • #105805

    Steve Ressler

    Craziness….Hope everyone is ok.

  • #105803

    Mark Hammer

    We experienced a fairly strong (5.5), but thankfully brief, earthquake in the Ottawa area in late June. I was busy chatting with one of our VPs outside the elevator, and initially I thought it was simply a bad bearing ht elevator making a grinding noise. As it transitioned from merely vbrating the light fixtures to clearly shaking the walls and floor (we were on the 19th), it became abundantly clear that it wasn’t just the elevator.

    The response to it varied considerably by organization and building. Our building, by virtue of the agencies it houses (Treasury Board, among them) is regularly picketed whenever there is any group with a grievance, so one of the first thoughts to run through or heads was the possibility of a bomb in the parking garage. That, and the recurring building-design issues that crop up led folks to simply stream out of the building via the stairwell as fast as they could (we only suffered a few cracked windows). We learned afterward, that best practice is to remain IN the building rather than vacate and stand around outside to be hit by falling debris (like the cracked windows), but as this was the first and only earthquake within the memory of any employees, we naturally defaulted to what we do when there is a fire alarm.

    Speaking to someone from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (who are situated in town and also get picketed regularly) a few days later, I learned they had received a number of internal e-mails regarding demonstrations during the G8/G20 talks, and with the firebombing of a bank in town during the preceding weeks, it seems I wasn’t alone in initially wondering if it was a bomb.

    Ironically, it was somewhat comforting, once I vacated the building and strolled down the street to see the other government employees out on the sidewalk across from their respective buildings, to know that it was “only” an earthquake.

    Meanwhile, my wife works for a micro-agency in an office tower down the street from mine, and her organization stayed in the office and kept working. I suspect, rather than any sort of work ethic, that is more a reflection of the constant shaking they have experienced over the previous year from the blasting beside them, preparatory to the addition of another adjoining office tower.

    In any event, the bottom line is that I gather, like our own organization, the natural tendency is to default to whatever it is you do during fire alarms, rather than what is recommended in response to earthquakes. In fairness, a fire alarm in the building will result in an orderly succession of messages and distinctive alarms. We experienced no similarly organized messaging after the earthquake. In part, this is because fire alarms are identified and triggered by smoke detection, but nothing triggers an earthquake alarm in similar fashion. The fellow in building security who announces that “floors 19 through 23 should vacate now, using the staircase” is in no position to make a judgment call about whether it is an earthquake or something else. So, in the absence of a positive ID, and coordinating information, the ensuing chaos is about what one would expect under the circumstances.

    So what do you folks who encounter tremors and quakes on a more regular basis do? Do you have distinctive or informative messaging? Do you have earthquake “rehearsals”?

  • #105801


    The State of Arizona’s agency does simulate disasters, however we haven’t done so for a couple of years. The last simulation had our agency pretty busy since we are an environmental agency and the last simulated event was a terrorist attack on a bridge in the Phoenix area where chemicals were added to the water supply.

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