Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Tropical Storms - Just Another Summer in DC

We have really had several interesting happenings in our neck of the words over the past several weeks. On August 24 just before 2:00 p.m., a 5.8 magnitude earthquake jolted our area (actually, it was pretty widespread - from the middle of Virginia all the way up in the northeast. As luck would have it, part of our chimney came down. My DH was driving home from a dentist appointment and came down the hill to witness the neighbors throwing bricks from the street onto our yard. He got out of the car and asked what they were doing and they pointed to the chimney. The bricks flew off the chimney, hit the roof on the side porch and bounced into the street. There was several holes in the roof (the bricks were solid, from the early 1930s - not like the bricks they make today). When I got home from work, we were picking the bricks off the yard and I couldn't believe how heavy they were. Of course we called the insurance company, only to learn that we didn't have any earthquake coverage (why would we -when is the last time we had a 5.8 earthquake in our area?). We began the process of getting some estimates since this repair would be on our dime. After contacting a few companies, we choose one who was reasonably priced and the chimney was repaired.

On August 27th, Hurricane Irene paid a visit to our area. There was a lot of rain, but the winds seemed to be what I noticed more. And the thunderstorms (thunder and lightning for hours on end). After all was over by Sunday afternoon (they called off church on Friday as the storm approached), our next door neighbor lost a huge tree, as did the neighbors who live in back of us. Fortunately for us, we have no trees on our property except a lovely crepe mrytle, who was spared (unlike when we had all the snow during the last 2 years). Lots of yard debris to clean up but we escaped relatively unscathed.

Then, on September 5th, Tropical Storm Lee came to pay a visit, and boy did he overstay his welcome. We had torrential downpours for 5 days - estimates of 10-15 inches of rain descended on the area. Again, we were lucky. We live in the middle of a very large hill (our section of the city is called Hyattsville Hills) and despite all the rain, we didn't experience any flooding (thank goodness the sump pump we installed in 1988 worked overtime and kept the water out of the basement). Schools were closed, and so many roads were flooded for days. Many people were less fortunate and suffered flooded basements; mobile home parks were totally destroyed; roads washed away; and people lost electricity for up to 10 days (again we were sparred the power outages). How could any of us predict we would have had three major geological and weather events in such a short span?

What did we learn from these events? If you feel the earth moving, it probably did. Listen to your inner voice and make sure you are prepared in case another significant event occurs (stock up on your food supply, especially food that doesn't need to be refrigerated, keep plenty of water on hand, maybe purchase a generator), and don't be alarmed if nature's wrath comes calling again. Methinks we might see more strange occurrences going forward.