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Va. Campgrounds Jarred by Surprise Earthquake

August 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Campgrounds located near the Mineral, Va., epicenter for the earthquake that surprised millions of people on the East Coast Tuesday (Aug. 23) largely escaped damage, according to a report by Woodall’s Campground Management.

The quake, which measured 5.9 on the Richter scale, shook for between 30 and 45 seconds starting at 1:51 p.m. EST and caught many campers off guard.

“It was really bad. It was really loud and shaking a lot,” said Emily Seay, activities director at Christopher Run Campground, a Good Sam Park in Mineral, located 84 miles southwest of Washington, D.C.

Covers on the ceiling lights fell down and numerous items fell off the office shelves, she said, and the electricity shut off. Seay had no idea what had happened until some colleagues told her afterward it was an earthquake. Some guests left, fearful of repercussions from the nuclear power plant located about 10 miles away.

Park owner Jean Bazzanella quickly toured the 200-site park, about half full when the quake struck, but discovered no damage, Seay said. The owner was back surveying the campground again this morning.

At Lake Anna State Park located nearby on the east side of a man-made lake created to serve the power plant, Angie Morris, office assistant, didn’t think it was an earthquake when she first felt the tremors. She thought it could be a low-flying airplane, or perhaps an explosion at the power plant.

“I didn’t hear the emergency sirens (located throughout the greater Mineral community) so I thought, ‘OK, it’s not that,’” she said.

Items fell off shelves, computers fell off desks and store merchandise fell to the floor. “I looked at my fellow office worker who said, ‘That was an earthquake.’ We stood there in a state of shock. We weren’t sure what to do next,” she added. “It’s kind of scary when you’re not familiar with them.”

Workers got out of their building and began to look around the campground. Some campers came to the office to inquire. One cabin camper decided to check out.

The campground sustained a broken water line from the well house to the cabin area but no other structural damage, she said. The water line has since been repaired.

Morris said the area experienced aftershocks at 8 p.m. that night and again at 1-4 a.m. this morning. Both morning quakes awoke her from her sleep, she said.

Federal officials say two nuclear reactors at the North Anna Power Station were automatically taken off line by safety systems around the time of the earthquake.

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