Recovering, preparing for a major earthquake

Posted at 12:27 PM, Aug 23, 2013

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) -- Today marks two years since a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit Louisa County, causing major damage.  Bob Spieldenner with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) said when the quake hit many reacted in the wrong way.

"Many people ran outside of buildings, which is the wrong thing to do," Spieldenner said.  "The first thing you should do is get under something solid, cover your head and protect yourself."

The destruction was widespread.  The quake rattled the entire east coast, even severely damaging landmarks nearly 90 miles away in Washington D.C.  But it was the dozens of aftershocks that took things from bad to worse.

"We had to bring experts in from the west coast that had been through earthquakes," Spieldenner said.  "We asked for that kind of assistance to really help us identify the damage to see what we could do to get it repaired."

Some of the repairs are ongoing.  Two of the county's schools had to be demolished in the aftermath of the quake.  And even more homes were severely damaged.

"You can see the floors were buckled, doorways were canted," Spieldenner recalled.  "It was really weird."

Years later VDEM is hoping everyone will better prepare how to survive and quickly recover from a big earthquake.  As part of the preparation Spieldenner encouraged families to not only develop but practice their emergency plans.  He also urges everyone to take part in a nationwide earthquake drill, set for October 17, 2013.  For more information on the ShakeOut drill, click here.