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Tuesday’s earthquake shakes Richmond, but doles out little damage.



Richmond shook and swayed, but as of late Tuesday afternoon there was no significant damage to report from the 5.8 earthquake that occurred just before 2 p.m.

Office towers downtown evacuated, as did City Hall, and more than a dozen elderly residents of the Fay Towers near Gilpin Court reportedly received medical treatment after the building was evacuated, but no injuries were reported, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Officials at the Richmond Metropolitan Authority, which operates the downtown expressway and Powhite Parkway, including the Powhite Bridge, were busy inspecting the roadway and multiple bridges, but there were no reports of damage.

“For right now we are doing some drive-bys around the facility, and everything is looking good so far,” says Linda McElroy, public relations manager for the authority. “We haven’t had any reports of any damage at this point.”

City Hall evacuated shortly after the earthquake, and closed early. In a press release this afternoon, Tammy Hawley, a spokeswoman for the mayor, says there were no reports of injuries or structural damage to city facilities.

“Presently, there are no reports of any employee injuries and all evacuation efforts have gone well,” she says in an email. “City Hall and other city facilities are being checked for any structural damages or damages to operating systems. There are no reported damages to the city’s infrastructure at this time.”

The earthquake originated in Mineral, and occurred nearly four miles below the surface, according to geological reports. The impact reportedly stretched as far as Maine, and led to evacuations of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Dominion Resources’ nuclear power plant in Lake Anna, near the quake’s epicenter, shut down without incident, as did the Dominion’s other nuclear plants around the state, according to a statement from the power utility.

“The reactors have been shut down safely and no major damage has been reported,” the company said in a statement. “No release of radioactive material has occurred beyond those minor releases associated with normal station operations.”

Local police and fire departments were busy much of the afternoon responding to emergency calls, but so far no serious injuries or damage has been reported, aside from a possible collapsed stairwell downtown and a collapsed wall in the East End, according to the Times-Dispatch. Phone service was out in some areas, however.

The region is expected to experience aftershocks from the quake over the next few days. While none as been reported in the Richmond area thus far, there have been some reports of aftershocks earlier this afternoon closer to the quake’s epicenter in Mineral.

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