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Va. Town Near Earthquake's Epicenter Rattled

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Mineral, Va., was very close to the epicenter of Tuesday's 5.8 earthquake. It was the largest quake felt on the East Coast in 70 years.

TAMARA KEITH: This is Tamara Keith. I'm in Mineral, Virginia, which is pretty close to the epicenter of this earthquake and I'm outside of the town office and DMV. And it's sustained some of the most visible damage in town. There are bricks down and there's caution tape keeping people away. And on the front door of the office there's a handwritten sign. It says: Closed. Quake Damage. Unknown when re-opening.

JOYCE TALLEY: Well, from the back side you can really see it.

KEITH: Joyce Talley came to the tiny downtown to survey the damage.

TALLEY: I was OK until I talked to my middle school granddaughter. And she made out fine at school and when she got home she broke down, because she was just upset, which upset me.

KEITH: All the local schools were evacuated, as were government buildings in Washington, D.C. and beyond. Two nuclear reactors at the North Anna Power Station near here were automatically taken offline after the quake. But there's this overriding sense among everyone you talk to that they feel lucky. The damage, even this close to the epicenter, just wasn't that bad.

Tom Runnett, the president of the Mineral Volunteer Fire Department says there were no serious injuries.

TOM RUNNETT: Older commercial structures here in town and some of the residential structures took the most damage. I don't think there's a chimney standing in town.

KEITH: Two of those collapsed chimneys are at Theresa Brown's house on the outskirts of Mineral. She says she lost her good china too.

THERESA BROWN: Everything broke, so it came off my cabinets and the shelves came down. And my husband has this massive collection of Hot Wheels. I mean, we had Hot Wheels everywhere.

KEITH: What was most remarkable about this quake wasn't the damage it caused. It was the fact that a 5.8 shaker struck on the East Coast. It was the largest here in nearly 70 years.

BROWN: Wow. In Mineral? I didn't know we were on a fault. I had no clue.

KEITH: Now we all do.

Tamara Keith, NPR News, Mineral, Virginia.

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