Lawyers and other legal eagles take refuge in front of the Albemarle courthouse after the earth shook.
The quake may have come from the Chopawamic faults in the Central Virginia Seismic Zone.
Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy
Unless you were in the presence of a perceptive animal– and
there were scattered reports of skittish dogs– it came without
warning four seconds after 1:51pm on a sunny Tuesday, August 23. At
5.8 on the Richter scale, it was the biggest earthquake to hit
Central Virginia during human habitation, the biggest in Virginia
in the era of measured earthquakes, and, according to the state
geologist, taking note of reports stretching from Canada to South
Carolina, "the most-felt earthquake in human history."
Like Hurricane Camille, which struck Central Virginia in 1969,
it would be several days before the extent of the damage became
known. Most severely hit were schools and houses in Louisa County,
a place that's home to about 33,000 people– and one very strong
Shawn Lawson's husband was in the shower of their rented home
when the pink ceramic tiles suddenly began popping off the wall.
Outside, the porch roof collapsed. And inside, Lawson huddled over
a nephew and grandson as the walls cracked and the chimney tumbled
onto a picnic table in the yard.
"I don't know that it's liveable," said Lawson of the house,
pointing to myriad cracks a few hours after the big shake.
Scenes of lost chimneys, cracked walls, and shifted foundations
were repeated across Louisa. Within days, officials had tallied the
property damage at nearly $7 million. And that doesn't count the
schools, two of which have been ruled out of service for the