Office workers gather on the sidewalk in downtown Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011, moments after a 5.9 magnitude tremor shook the nation's capitol. The earthquake centered northwest of Richmond, Va., shook much of Washington, D.C., and was felt as far north as Rhode Island and New York City.

Just before 2 p.m. Tuesday, Linda McKinney went to investigate what she thought was just her refrigerator making a strange noise.

“I was in my trailer in Lashmeet; it shook for about 30 seconds,” McKinney said. “Nothing fell off, but it shook for 30 seconds. It was at 1:56 p.m. There was like four people here with me. I looked at the refrigerator, and thought well it’s not the refrigerator doing that. It just rolled. I would say 30 seconds or maybe a little bit longer.”

Blossom Costello said she felt tremors at her home on Wayne Street in Bluefield.

“I literally came running out of my house,” Costello said. “I thought a truck had hit my house. It was like a rumble. I ran up the street to see if anybody else felt it.”

Costello said she went to visit a relative who lived nearby after feeling the shaking.

“She felt it; she thought she was going crazy,” Costello said. “I had a mirror fall off the wall. A couple of pots fell off my counter in the kitchen. We had a stack of movies that fell over.”

Costello said she had gone through “little tremors” when she lived in North Carolina, but nothing like Tuesday’s quake.

“It was scary,” she said. “My house shook, shook. My heart was beating. No serious damage, but definitely a serious shake.”

Irene Shaffer of Princeton also experienced shaking at her home.

“We felt it all the way here in Princeton,” Shaffer said. “I was alone in my house and the lady I work with said she felt a shake. I thought I was just feeling dizzy. Then we turned on the news and heard what we felt was an earthquake.”

Many employees of downtown businesses were gathered in Chicory Square as fire officials investigated buildings to make sure they were safe to re-enter.

Frontier employee Erica Lucas said she was concerned for her safety when the building began to shake.

“It sort of felt like when you stand up to fast and get dizzy,” Lucas said. “I thought I should maybe leave work and pick up my daughter. It was kind of nerve-wracking, especially when you consider how many buildings on this street have fallen down without anything like an earthquake. Within minutes, people were all looking it up online and talking about it on Facebook.”

Jessica Steele, an employee with Frontier Communications, said she felt her desk chair shaking when the tremors occurred.

“I thought something was shaking my chair,” Steele said. “Pretty soon, people were asking ‘Did you feel that? Did you feel that?’ They asked us to evacuate a little bit after we felt the shocks. Corporate told us we had to leave the building.”

Gina Workman, another Frontier employee, said she felt brief shaking as well.

“My computer monitor was shaking and my desk was shaking,” Workman said. “I started asking everyone around me what was going on and if they felt it.”

Residents also reported tremors on the Bluefield Daily Telegraph Facebook page in areas of the region including Lashmeet, Kegley, Welch, Peterstown, Abbs Valley, Raven, Thompson Valley and Rocky Gap.

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