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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 07/16/2010

Scenes from the epicenter of D.C.'s quake

By Washington Post editors

In Germantown, at the corner of Waring Station and Forest Brook Roads, there's a deep wooded forest area where apparently the epicenter of the D.C. quake is about 3 miles down.

Two houses away, sleeping in their finished basement, Joan Gibbons and her husband heard a loud boom and thought there was an explosion. They rushed outside and met other neighbors who thought the same. Did a nearby school blow up?

"Something had to have blown up," she said.

But when she turned on the TV she learned it was an earthquake.

"I will never even visit California now," said the retired teacher. "It was very scary. I couldn't live there."

Five hours later she was still miffed.

"I get up sometimes in the morning and everything is spinning but this was different," she said. "If we've had earthquakes before I never felt them. This one I did. I didn't like it and the dogs, they went absolutely crazy."

But a few houses away Danielle Laffman and her family felt not a thing.

"I must have had a really bad day yesterday if this didn't wake me up," Laffman said. Her kids, standing near her at the front door, giggled.

Laffman learned of the quake via a text message from a friend in Clarksburg, who wondered if she was okay.

"We never even woke up," she said. "I can't believe how close we were."

Across the street Adam Helmy and his father Sam definitely felt the quake. As soon as the shaking began, Adam wondered it could be. It was too big for thunder. It couldn't be an earthquake -- not here. A bomb? An explosion? Then he flipped on his TV to see the breaking news about the earthquake in his neighborhood. Weird.

"I can't believe this happened right here," Adam, 30, said.

His father was working in the garage and began running around checking the house.

He found a few cracks in the house and several in the driveway. To prove they were new cracks he showed a reporter that there was no fresh dirt in the cracks yet.

"I'm gonna call Allstate today," he said.

-- Michael Rosenwald

By Washington Post editors  | July 16, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
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I have felt earthquakes before, coming from the Pacific Islands of the Philippines but I have never heard it. Can someone explain why this particular earthquake made a rumbling sound in the 20877 area code while others closer to the epicenter claim it was a boom. What would cause the sound?

Posted by: immigrant1 | July 16, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I thought it was a bomb. I live near Route 118 and Middlebrook Road. I was up very late and went to bed about 4:30 a.m. and was not a sleep at 5:04 a.m. when it hit. I could not believe it. I was certain that Washington, D.C. had been bombed. I called 911 and there was an odd sound, which gave me the creeps. I looked out the windows to see if there was fire anywhere. On the sidewalk, my neighbors confirmed that there was no shaking of the ground. My eyes were on the skyline ... looking south towards D.C. The first report was online from USGS then YouTube.

Posted by: Peter_Hebert | July 16, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

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