5.8 earthquake hits Washington, D.C. area

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Four high-rise apartment buildings in the 3200 block of Curtis Drive in Hillcrest Heights have been evacuated due to structural concerns and one building at 3208 Curtis Drive has been condemned.

In one high-rise at 3208 Curtis Drive, more than 250 people are displaced. A shelter has been established.

On Wednesday, Prince George’s County officials said they are waiting for assessments from structural engineers the conditions of the 3208 Curtis Drive and 3103 Good Hope Avenue buildings.

Residents of 3103 Good Hope Avenue are allowed into the building to collect their belongings. Structural engineers evaluating the building deemed it safe for this action, though officials are waiting for a certified letter from the engineer before allowing residents to move back into their homes. The 3208 Curtis Drive location is still closed to residents. Contractors are on site there making repairs to the building.

Officials said more than 120 people were at the Hillcrest Heights Community Center, a Red Cross shelter.

“I was just shaking uncontrollably,” Lisa Kinard said. “Something I’d never want to experience again.”

Tabitha and Jovan Waters and their children only have one bag of supplies.

“They are going to let us know tomorrow whether or not we gonna be able to get back in …the building looked bad, so I don't know,” Jovan said.

“The wall is kind of falling down falling apart on the steps, kind of breaking open a little bit,” said Tabitha. Engineers will inspect the building.

“The building was shaking. I thought the building was coming down, I had no idea it was an earthquake,” said Emmitt Kemp.

Two Vienna office buildings were also damaged. "Basically what happened here is we had a seismic failure on the building,” said Plaza resident Carl Neuberg.

Cinder blocks from exterior walls rained down on grass, sidewalk and fiberglass, destroying four cars.

“If anybody had been pulling up at lunch time, because it was around two, they would have been dead,” said Terri Stork.

Thankfully, no one was injured. Crews boarded up exposed spaces, but until county officials deem these buildings safe, no one will be allowed in.

Historic downtown Culpepper was shaken hard by the quake, which took a toll on St. Stephen's Episcopal church.

Several stores were heavily damaged, so were a few overhead apartments. The roof of the town office building is gone.

At the earthquake’s epicenter in Louisa County, Va., schools are closed until further notice. The high school was damaged and debris strewn inside. Student Kateylynn Watson said she was in the middle of class and ran out of the building in shock.

One student was taken to the hospital after suffering a possible asthma attack.

Officials have found a crack in a wall at the County Courthouse in Upper Marlboro. In Stafford County, officials said they have no reports of injuries and only minor damage.

More than 12 million people live close enough to the quake's epicenter to feel shaking, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The agency said this quake was in the yellow alert category for economic damage, meaning there was potential for local damage but it would add up to far less than 1 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

Obama and many of the nation's leaders were out of town on August vacation when the quake struck at 1:51 p.m. EDT. The shaking was felt on the Martha's Vineyard golf course as Obama was just starting a round.

East Coast earthquakes are far less common than in the West, but they tend to be felt over a broad area. That's because the crust is not as mangled and fractured, allowing seismic waves to travel without interruption.

"The waves are able to reverberate and travel pretty happily out for miles," said U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Susan Hough.

Amtrak said its trains along the Northeast Corridor between Baltimore and Washington were operating at reduced speeds and crews were inspecting stations and railroad infrastructure before returning to normal.

The Virginia quake came a day after an earthquake in Colorado toppled groceries off shelves and caused minor damage to homes in the southern part of the state and in northern New Mexico. No injuries were reported as aftershocks continued Tuesday.

A viewer wrote: "I live in Budscreek, MD (northern St. Marys County) we felt it hard -- the house shook knocking items off my desk. The inground pool water sloshed over the sides (about an inch of water was lost), the fish pond sloshed over its banks, the dogs went crazy. It sounded and felt like a plane or helicopter crashed in my yard or was going to hit the house."

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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