Updates by the minute: Early dismissal after 5.9 magnitude earthquake hits Virginia and D.C.


UPDATE 6:02: U.S. Postal Service reporting that no employees were injured, but that there is structural damage to some buildings closer to the quake’s epicenter. Headquarters building at L’Enfant Plaza in Washington will be open Wednesday.

UPDATE 4:25: Here’s an official statement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency saying that there are no early reports of major damage or requests for assistance so far, but preliminary assessments are continuing.

UPDATE 4:01 p.m.: OPM declares early dismissal for federal employees in the Washington area after earthquake. A decision on Wednesday’s operating status will be made by 4 a.m. tomorrow.

UPDATE 4 p.m.: ABC News has video of the quake hitting the White House and Capitol Building here.

UPDATE 3:40: Veterans Affairs says via Twitter it’s getting reports of potential damage at some Virginia facilities, such as the Lynchburg, Va., Community Based Outreach Clinic.

OPM says statement from Director John Berry is coming soon.

UPDATE 3:34:  Is this a first? Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., calling a pro forma session of the Senate to order off-site outside Postal Museum, according to Twitter feed.

UPDATE 3:21: Government Accountability Office employees were evacuated, but are now back in, according to spokesman Chuck Young. Employees are being given the option to leave work early.

UPDATE 3:12: The North Anna nuclear facility in Louisa County, Virginia, is running on diesel generators after losing offsite power, according to Elizabeth Stuckle, a spokeswoman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The reactors were automatically and safely shut down, and the plant declared an “unusual event,” which is the lowest level alert for an out-of-the-ordinary situation. There are nine other nuclear plants in the affected area, but they have reported no shut downs.

UPDATE 3 p.m.: Image of the devastation here.

UPDATE 2:58 p.m.: We’re getting word that employees at the National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the National Archives have been told they can go home. Employees at the Veterans Affairs, Interior and State departments and the Office of Personnel Management were also evacuated, and are now being let back into their buildings.

The Justice Department’s HR Twitter feed says they have implemented continuity of operations plans for DC area offices; but they’re also telling employees to “stay tuned for guidance from OPM.”

UPDATE 2:46: U.S. Postal Service is “currently assessing our operations to see if there are any impacts,” spokesman says. Headquarters building at 475 L’Enfant Plaza evacuated.

UPDATE 2:32: The United States Geological Survey National Center in Reston, V.A. has been evacuated.

UPDATE 2:23 p.m.: Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said on his Twitter account that people will have trouble using their cell phones, and should only use them if its an emergency.

Other post-earthquake tips from FEMA: Stay away from damaged areas, clean up chemical spills and open your cabinets carefully. See more here.

UPDATE 2:13 p.m.: CNN reports the Pentagon and Capitol Building have been partly evacuated, and the quake has been upgraded to a 5.9.

Washington Metro trains are running no faster than 15 mph as personnel check all tracks.

ORIGINAL POST: A 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook the Washington, D.C. area minutes ago. The epicenter was based near Richmond, Va., and shook buildings and rattled furniture as far as New York and Ohio.

More updates as the aftermath unfolds.

Here is the link for the USGS: http://on.doi.gov/rpwVxc

Please email us at amedici@federaltimes.com or slosey@federaltimes.com if your building has been evacuated or you have had to take any steps in the aftermath of the earthquake.


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  1. About 2pm I felt the house shudder then I felt like I was on a boat rolling with the waves. No damage. My first earthquake, it took me 30 seconds or more to figure out what was happening.

  2. In New Oxford, Pa. my house shook for maybe 20 seconds. I felt what I thought was heavy wind outside then, the house shook, glasses on the bar rattled, fell and broke and the cat ran.

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