The DC Earthquake: Never Forget, Never Again

August 23, 2011. It began like any other day, ostensibly forgetful in the interminable loop of Corporate America’s ruthless drubbing on the souls of the Entitled Generation. But, like numerous nefarious numbers that not only nauseate us but also navigate us to the nadir of our emotional nexuses, 8/23 would nail itself into national notoriety (Alliteration Count: 11 – new P.R.!).

At approximately 1:51 EDT, while many grasped at the straws of the last nine minutes of their lunch break looking for something to fill the emptiness of a pre-PO-Life world, terror struck the eastern seaboard. Four miles below the surface of simple Louisa County, Virginia, home to roughly the same number of people as undergraduates at the University of Colorado-Boulder, the Earth’s tectonic plates began their best R. Kelly impersonations. Ordinarily, a quake of this magnitude would be categorized as an afternoon rumble. By Californian’s standards, it’s the Richter scale equivalent of Jessica Simpson’s stomach growl upon entering a Jack-in-the-Box.

But DC doesn’t share the same indifference towards fault-line friction as Mr. Kelly. We’re the epicenter of a unique dichotomy of inaction and overreaction. We pride ourselves in log-jamming any type of movement towards accomplishing anything for which we cannot attribute an additional vote. We stop letting federal employees *cough* Eli *cough* go to afternoon Nationals games because SOMEONE had to go and blow a bunch of taxpayer dollars on a bicycle building team-building event. And, we get super passive aggressive over 225 year old laws.

So with no earthquake procedures in place, havoc broke loose. The streets of downtown Washington became indistinguishable from those of Tripoli. Even The Washington Post’s cover photo was ambiguous. Are those two Libyan women fleeing rebel forces? Or two GS-12s finding solace in each other’s warm embrace?

8/23, like so many other infamous dates in American history, exposed our cushy lifestyles and lack of preparedness. However earthquakes, unlike other disasters in the Sim City 2000 rolodex, offer little to no early warning signs. There is no miracle fix, like the terrorism threat level color chart which taught us that the difference between a high threat level and a severe threat level is only a few nanometers on the visible light spectrum.

I, for one, welcome our new alien overlords.

Solutions for these types of problems are usually created outside of the beltway by the government contracting community. But this time, it would be different. Just a stone’s throw away from the most heavily damaged building, the National Cathedral, a team of brilliant scientists would create a fool-proof plan for protecting our liberty and freedom the next time Mother Nature decides to push her socialist Wiccan agenda on the American public: follow the animals.

As a society, we’ve become out of touch with our naturalistic surroundings. When we sense a monumental moment on the horizon, we cling to our tablets and mobile devices as life preservers to save us from the impending flood of information. Our ancestors, the Founding Fathers of this Nation, would never have stood for this type of distraction. Instead, great thinkers such as Benjamin Franklin, would have asked themselves, “what would Kojo, the west African lowland gorilla, do?”

Having a human name is half the battle. Next, he’ll start a mainstream four-chord band named “Silverback” and try to marry Avril Lavigne.

The National Zoo’s laundry list of exotic animals were the first line in minimizing the devastating effects of 8/23. We were just to blind to see. Some species only had a few seconds of warning before the quake hit. But others, such as the red ruffed lemur, had 15 MINUTES! Think of all the Twitter parody accounts we could have made ahead of time with that kind of notice! Rather than adopting dogs, we should be lobbying our political officials to overturn antiquated laws relating to domesticating wild species. Except for pandas. To nobody’s surprise “the giant pandas did not appear to respond to the earthquake”, a natural phenomenon consistent with their necessity for pornographic material in order to stimulate their reproduction efforts.

Sure, this earthquake was no 10.5, but according to seismologists and the NBC made-for-TV movie marketing team, it’s “only the beginning”. 8/23 was a somber wake-up call that we must be forever vigilant. Future filmmakers will give voice to this indescribable date with a quasi-war-romance saga starring an ensemble of 2031 A-listers that will taint the significance of what it meant to Gchat your college roommate from junior year, letting her know that you were a survivor. As a society, along with our newfound Malagasy mammal friends, we must be the defining voice that cries out to future generations to never forget, never again. I wish you and all of yours a safe Quake Day. God bless Washington, DC. And God bless America.

Where were you when the DC Earthquake struck? Tell us your stories of heroism and personal survival in the comments section.



  1. joeygreenthumb

    This is absolutely a true story, and shows how much of a difference a year makes. Last year, on this date, at 1:51 PM, I was alone in my house, chokin’ my chicken when disaster struck. The first thought that ran through my head was, “oh shit, I am going to collapse in this building and the firemen are going to find me, naked, with my hand on my penis.” Nothing kills a boner quite like the threat of mass embarassment.

    This year, at 1:51 PM, I am going to be in a weekly staff meeting attempting to not fall asleep.

    I wish I could go back to simpler times.

  2. Morgan (@meh83)

    Thanks for the CU-Boulder shout-out! (I guess?)

    I was on the phone with my mother in my office and when the large fat person started running down the hallway (i.e., when the earthquake ‘hit’) I said, “Oh shit mom, something just happened, I have to go,” and promptly hung up on her. Back in Texas, my parents and their hillbilly neighbors put into motion Operation No-Holds-Barred in preparation for the terrorist attack which had most certainly just destroyed Washington, D.C.

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