Temblor rattles county, far from VA epicenter

HUDSON–An earthquake centered in Mineral, VA, 40 miles northwest of Richmond, gave people in Columbia County a taste of what Californians take in stride.

The quake, a magnitude 5.8 on the Richter Scale, prompted about 20 county residents from Livingston in the south to Kinderhook in the north to call the County 911 Center to report that they felt the structure they were in shake and ask what was going on, according to 911 Director Rob Lopez.

 

The calls started coming in around 1:54 p.m. Tuesday, August 23 and continued for about a half an hour.

All 911 dispatchers could do was ask callers if they needed assistance from fire, rescue or police departments, because dispatchers had no information about what was going on until news reports came out later.

Mr. Lopez described the sensation generated by feeling the earthquake as “different” and said that some people “felt dizzy.”

Several of the calls to 911 came from Hudson, also Stockport and West Ghent.

While there was no formal county order to evacuate, people in the Columbia County Courthouse at 401 Union Street, the Columbia County Health Department at 325 Columbia Street and Columbia County Department of Social Services at 25 Railroad Avenue, all realized something out of the ordinary was going on, followed fire procedures and left the buildings, according to Columbia County Board of Supervisors Roy Brown.

A superficial crack in the Health Department building that started at the top and went about three quarters of the way down was noticed, but it was not immediately known when the crack developed or whether it was caused by the quake, said the chairman.

The Social Services building sustained internal cracks in walls, around doors and windows and in corners. Everyone who was in the Social Services building was sent home. Public Works Commissioner David Robinson and a structural engineer inspected and determined the health department building was safe and personnel went back inside.

Additional in-depth analysis will be done at the health department and at the social services building, said Mr. Brown noting that there are currently many issues at stake with the social services building, which the county leases.

Chairman Brown was in the county’s 401 State Street office building at the time of the quake and said the building shook, like a “heavy truck was rumbling by” only it lasted longer. He said he looked out the window and saw the wires on the poles “bouncing around.” A former resident of the San Francisco Bay area, Mr. Brown said his experience with the quake in Hudson was minor compared to what he experienced in California.

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