The University of Mary Washington suffered minimal damage after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck Mineral, Va. at approximately 1:50 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 23, according to the United States Geological Survey.
According to Acting Vice President for Administration and Finance and Chief Financial Officer Richard Pearce, the magnitude 5.8 earthquake cracked every building on campus.
Last week, a structural engineer analyzed the damages and pointed out places where mortar and bricks had fallen. However, none of the damages were structural, just aesthetic.
According to Pearce, Seacobeck Dining Hall “took the worst hit.” Two chimneys are in need of repair and the wall covering the heating and air conditioning on the roof lost some bricks.
The cost of the damages is currently unknown. According to Pearce, the buildings will be repaired within the year, mainly by ground staff.
The earthquake’s epicenter was about 38 mi. away from Fredericksburg.
The school’s emergency alert system told students at 2:39 p.m., “UMW has had a 5.9 earthquake. No serious damage or injuries report. Please remain outside of all buildings until a clear has been given by safety.”
The earthquake, which lasted 22 seconds according to the Associated Press, compelled UMW officials to evacuate the buildings on campus until they could assess the damage.
While damage to UMW was minimal, sections of campus have been roped off to prevent students from being hurt by falling debris knocked loose by the earthquake.
UMW President Rick Hurley stated, “This unexpected event tested us.”
While UMW has a procedure for expected events like recent hurricane Irene, there are very few ways to prepare for an earthquake, according to Hurley
“We learned a lesson from that earthquake,” Hurley said. “Rick Pearce and I need to have walkie-talkies in our offices to contact emergency services and campus police.”
“I’ve never been in an earthquake before,” said Emily Thurston, marketing manager of Dining Services. “I thought it was a truck rumbling down College Avenue at first, but we were safely evacuated.”
Thurston stated that she is “glad to be back in the building so we can feed our students, faculty and staff.
Sophomore Elizabeth Matute noticed the damage in Combs Hall.
“In the left staircase going up to the second floor, there are huge cracks going up the sides of the wall and holes showing damage too,” Matute said.
Several students training to be orientation leaders were inside the Great Hall when the earthquake struck.
Foam on the ceiling of the Great Hall fell down, and the chandeliers were shaking, according to Suquoia Mosby, a junior
Mosby added that pipes were knocking against the wall and it sounded like people were stomping on the roof.
Sophomore June Walker was also in the Great Hall during the earthquake.
“It sounded like people were moving chairs around,” Walker said.
UMW permitted students to reenter the buildings at 3:53 p.m. Tuesday, but closed the school for business for the rest of the day at 3:00 p.m.
– Contributed to by Paulina Kosturos.