All is returning to normal around here after yesterday’s earthquake and aftershocks. Fortunately, there have been no injury reports and minimal structural damage. However, we shouldn’t take this event lightly. Many folks were quite shaken, some terrified, as they tried to make sense of what was happening around them. Up until now, we have had little reason to drill for an earthquake, so most people were left to decide for themselves whether to stay in a building or leave. Moreover, cell phone service wasn’t working as the system was overloaded with calls to family and friends, creating an even greater level of anxiety. In Charlottesville, all 911 emergency telephone lines temporarily went down and residence were asked to call an alternative number. Fifty miles from here, two nuclear reactors were automatically taken offline, and on West Main Street, just a few blocks from the University Hospital, a gas leak closed the area to traffic for several hours.
The likelihood of another earthquake of this magnitude for this area is probably statistically slim. However, other events, such as a shooter or a bombing, can occur suddenly and leave us in a similar state: confused and unable to act objectively. This Mid-Atlantic earthquake gives us all a chance to pause and consider how we might respond to a sudden disastrous event; an event that will likely require clear thinking and competent leadership in order to avoid injuries and fatalities.