5.8 earthquake hits Washington, D.C. area

A 5.8 earthquake struck the D.C. area and beyond, shaking buildings, shattering windows and causing major traffic delays in the region.{ }

Mineral, Va. is reportedly the epicenter of the quake. It was felt from Ohio to New York. The U.S. Geological Survey officials are saying this was the strongest earthquake felt in Va. in 100 years.

”I thought a truck hit my house,” said Tyler Palmer, who lives in NE D.C. on 4th Street.

In Vienna, 72 miles from Mineral, the roof of a building along Courthouse Road was reduced to rubble along the sidewalk, indicative of the kind of destruction that can be seen all along the Commonwealth, reports Autria Godfrey.

Building will stay boarded up Wednesday until building inspectors can deem them safe.

Geologists have warned of aftershocks. Already in Va. there have been several, including one that was registered at 4.2 at about 8 p.m. Tuesday. These aftershocks could last for days, even weeks. Scientists are also warning Tuesdays 5.8 quake could just be a precursor, Godfrey reports.

Cracks found in Washington Monument

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.

Delays on highways, Metro snarl evening commute

After they realized the earthquake hadn’t caused major damage, many people tried to make their way home. What a mess that turned out to be.

Traffic was snarled on area highways and Metro trains were packed.

The Metro rail system is running but at reduced speeds because of the quake. Metro reports that trains were moving at 30 mph as of 10 p.m. after running at half that speed since the quake.

Throughout the afternoon, frustrated commuters tried to reach loved ones by cell phone, but many couldn’t get through.

"No calls, I finally heard back from my daughter’s babysitter,” Rebecca Chiampi. Phone companies recommend sending text messages or emails when networks are slammed with too many calls at once.

Area schools closed

In D.C., thirteen schools were "red-flagged" for closer inspection for damages, Mayor Vincent Gray said at a press conference Wednesday.

"Some but not all should be open [Thursday]," he said.

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. Schools in the county will be closed on Wednesday. See a list of all school closures.

In Virginia, an apartment complex in the 1800 block of Wilson Lane was evacuated due to damage from the earthquake, Fairfax County Fire officials said. Residents say fire marshals inspected the property after the earthquake and have now told them they must move out.

The building has been determined to be uninhabitable. Between 15 and 17 units appear to be affected and arrangements are being made to assist residents with housing.

MARC trains delayed

MARC trains will likely run at reduced service Wednesday, the Maryland Transit Administration said. Commuters faced severe delays Tuesday evening on the Penn, Brunswick, and Camden lines.

Trains had to be temporarily stopped after the earthquake and then operated at reduced speeds. Because of those delays, train engineers and conductors had to work longer shifts and now have to observe mandatory rest periods.

Two students, one at Kelly Miller Middle School in Ward 7 and another at Deal Middle School in Ward 3, received minor injuries. And one person diving for cover at DuVal HS during the earthquake was transported to a local hospital for a head injury.

See photos of the quake here.

Reports that the Washington Monument tilted during the quake are incorrect. But the quake knocked off one of the spires atop the National Cathedral.

Reagan National Airport returned to regular service at about 5:30 p.m. after there is a ground stop on flights and the air traffic control tower was evacuated following the quake.

Dulles has not been impacted by the earthquake and is functioning normally.

Flights scheduled to land are being held in the air or diverted.

Glass window panes shook and paintings and plaques fell off the wall inside the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Steve Simpson said, "it felt like a huge truck rumbling by then there was the point of realization that it was something else."

Simpson says so far, there are no reports of serious damage in the county.

Abigail Perkinson, who lives in McLean, Va., said she contacted family who lives in Mineral. Her family told her that pictures fell off the walls and there was “tons of broken glass everywhere.”

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At the Pentagon in northern Virginia, a low rumbling built and built to the point that the building was shaking. People ran into the corridors of the government's biggest building and as the shaking continued there were shouts of "Evacuate! Evacuate!"

The U.S. Park Service evacuated and closed all National Mall monuments and memorials. At Reagan National Airport outside Washington, ceiling tiles fell during a few seconds of shaking. Authorities announced it was an earthquake and all flights were put on hold.

Jump to the next page for updates on local damage and displaced residents in Hillcrest Heights.

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.