D.C. earthquake: D.C. region cleans up after historic earthquake
The D.C. region Wednesday was cleaning up and assessing the damage of the historic 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck yesterday.
At least 500 people were displaced in Prince George’s County after the earthquake damaged apartment buildings. About 100 people gathered at a temporary shelter at the Hillcrest Heights Community Center.
“The building is condemned - we can’t go in,” said Ebony Jones. “I got pets in there food. These things are hard to get and they won’t let us get no change of clothes. I had this on since yesterday.”
Thirty-two schools in Prince George’s County will remain closed Thursday as officials assessed damage from the quake, the strongest felt in the region in 100 years.
“The safety of our students, teachers and staff is our number one priority,” said Dr. William R. Hite, Jr., Superintendent of Schools. “We are working as quickly as possible to get the necessary building inspections completed so that school can resume for all students.”
In D.C., all schools will open on time except School Without Walls in Ward 2, which will remain closed.
The school that sustained the most damage was in Columbia Heights followed by Roosevelt and McFarland.
Two students suffered minor injuries with one reporting a sprained ankle and another an injury from a piece of tile falling.
All but two schools were evacuated.
In Maryland, Prince George’s County reported that 37 schools were damaged during the quake.
The National Park Service found some cracking in the stones at the top of the Washington Monument. Structural engineers will evaluate the cracks on Wednesday to determine the best way to repair the Monument before it is reopened. Except for an area about 100 feet outside of the plaza, the monument grounds have been reopened.
The earthquake forced evacuations of all the memorials and monuments on the National Mall and rattled nerves from South Carolina to Martha's Vineyard, the Massachusetts island where President Barack Obama is vacationing.
The Lincoln and Jefferson memorials were closed for a short time but then reopened. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the World War II Memorial, Vietnam Memorial and the Korean War Memorial remained open.
Authorities also said they will investigate reports that wireless 911 calls didn’t go through because the network was clogged.
“We are very concerned by incidents where emergency wireless calls to 9-1-1 after yesterday's earthquake were hampered by network congestion,” said FCC Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau Chief Jamie Barnett. “Thankfully, there have been no reports thus far about serious injuries or lives lost. Nevertheless, these are the moments when mobile phone service is needed most - and disruptions puts lives at risk. “
Several residents living in apartments in the 1800 block of Wilson Lane in McLean, Virginia are moving out today. Their apartments have cracks from yesterday's earthquake.
At least four apartments have been condemned by Fairfax County inspectors. The fire marshal determined that while the building has significant visible damage on inside and outside walls, the load-bearing walls were not compromised.
Other residents say they don't feel safe inside their apartment and want to move.
Allyson Barden says she and her family are being moved to another apartment with the complex.
"What if there are more aftershocks, I don't want to be in here," Barden said.
Meanwhile, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said Wednesday that the Virginia Disaster Relief Fund will be made a permanent part of the state's disaster relief tools. Officials say it will serve as a "fund of last resort" if other state, federal and private aid is unavailable.
McDonnell asked for donations after requests and appeals for federal aid for April's tornado damage were denied. The funds will first be used for those victims but will be available for any disaster.
An additional $1.1 million in pledges and donations was announced Wednesday, $600,000 pledged by the governor is state aid from the state's 2011 surplus, about $111,500 in donations collected at Virginia ABC stores, and about $25,000 in funds collected from private sources.
Jeffery Mitchell tossed out thousands of dollars' worth of fine cheese and salami Wednesday after power was cut to his Culpeper store after the earthquake.
“The refrigeration came back on, but we don't know what temperature it made it to overnight, and to be safe, get rid of it,” he said.
A Dominion Virginia Power official says Tuesday's powerful earthquake centered less than 20 miles from the North Anna Power Station did not pose a "significant" nuclear safety threat.
Mineral, Va. is reportedly the epicenter of the quake. It was felt from Ohio to New York.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.