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Look Back: One Year After the Earthquake

by ARLnow.com August 23, 2012 at 1:51 pm 3,936 21 Comments

Exactly one year ago, at 1:51 p.m. on August 23, 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit Virginia and the D.C. area, a wholly unexpected jolt that sent residents and workers scurrying into the streets.

Damage from the earthquake was relatively minor. Loose items fell from store shelves. Some brick structures like chimneys were damaged. Walls cracked at historic Arlington House. The foundation at Arlington Fire Station No. 2 was damaged. The Thomas Jefferson Theater had to be closed for repairs.

In the immediate aftermath of the quake, cell phone service was overloaded by people calling loved ones. Numerous gas leaks are being reported and hundreds of Dominion customers in Arlington lost power. This website crashed and remained only periodically reachable for at least an hour. Office buildings closed for damage assessments, and highways were jammed with workers heading  home early.

If there were some bright spots, it was that no significant injuries were reported, and the day’s Democratic primary went off without a hitch.

After the jump, some videos that were taken in Arlington during and after the earthquake.




  • JamesE

    I was working from home that day which I never do, thought the metro crashed or something. Strange since I am also working from home today as well.

    • bobby-o

      looks like youre really workin hard

      • JamesE

        I’m not at all, PTO, car is dead

        • JamesE

          I did do 1 solid hour of work

  • Rick

    Are you sure that picture is a year old and not from this morning?

    • Terry


    • YTK

      It looks likie CVS was having a sale, LOL. The mgr at Giant’s told me that last year the shampoo bottles crashed to the floor and spilled their contents but I think he was BS’ing me– most shampoo bottles are made of plastic.

      • WD

        And plastic can break too. I had a plastic bottle fall in the shower a few months ago and crack right along the seam.

  • Never forget people!


    • CrystalMikey

      We will rebuild!

      • Bob McDonnell

        Creating HOW many jobs?

        • Barack

          You didn’t rebuild that

  • Mary-Austin

    I was at a gas station in Fredericksburg when it happened. It was pretty close to the epicenter so it was pretty intense.
    The awnings over the pumps looked like they were about to collapse so I hauled butt out of there.
    Hope we never see a worse earthquake here in VA.

    • bman

      That was not the great east coast earthquake.

      That one is still building up.

  • There is no such thing as REAL Mexican food on the East coast

    Grew up in California and this article cracks me up

    • YTK

      An earthwuake is an earthquake. I can’t substantiate this but I heard that a roof in Vienna collapsed downward, and slid onto the cars parked in the office’s parking lot. No one was killed or injured, but if this is true, cars were destroyed.

    • Josh S

      I grew up in California and was scared to death when the earthquake hit. Of course, I was assuming it was a bomb…..

    • LVGuy

      And we crack up when people complain about the drizzle in California. And when Californians moan about the humidity. Seriously, every California transplant I know won’t stop talking about their butt sweat in the summer.

    • xyz

      SERIOUS ?: Is there anywhere around here that has kinda-OK mexican food? Please help, please

  • Loocy

    I am an Arlington native, but I lived in Northern California for 20 years, and experienced several major earthquakes (Loma Prieta, Coalinga, etc.). I was on the third floor of a 1950s era building in Arlington, knew exactly what it was, and dove under a table. That was some serious shaking. The building I was in suffered some fairly serious damage. Anyone who scoffs at the earthquake doesn’t know what they are talking about. For a 5.8 magnitude earthquake some 90 miles away, the shaking was surprisingly intense, far more intense than similar magnitude earthquakes I experienced in California. I understand that geologic differences account for the widespread shaking and intensity at large differences. Many local buildings were badly damaged, and several buildings in Louisa County were destroyed. The people who make light of this dangerous event don’t understand the nature of earthquakes.

    • Loocy

      distances not differences


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