Shoppers, tourists, and office workers were stunned after experiencing an earthquake in Northern Virginia on Tuesday. In Old Town, Alexandria, the Christmas Attic, a shop housed in a building that dates to 1785 that sells year-round holiday ornaments, saw damage to its stock on upper floors.
"Our Christopher Radko ornaments were damaged and all the dolls fell," said Betsy Husser, buyer for the store. Husser, who lived eight years in Japan, said she knew immediately that it was an earthquake that hit on Tuesday. A train that chugs over shoppers' heads fell off its tracks.
Brittni Foster, on the job just a few days, was taking a break over on the docks with her sister when the quake struck. "It was bouncing. We thought maybe a plane had crashed. All the ducks started to fly away."
Christmas Attic customer Jacqui Geiss was at Windsor beauty salon. "We thought the mirrors were going to fall off the walls any second," she said.
It was the same story all along King Street, the main thoroughfare from the train station to the Potomac River. Office workers, tourists and shoppers stood outside wondering what had just happened.
"I thought, 'Am I dizzy? What's going on?' " said Elizabeth Phillips, an intern from Storrs, Conn., at the Assisted Living Federation, 1650 King St. in Old Town Alexandria.
Phillips was standing outside the office building on a sidewalk on King Street waiting for an all-clear sign from the building manager before going back in.
Standing nearby, Flavia Brandischok, a Springfield resident and native of Rio, Brazil, was trying to get a hold of her husband at his office in Fairfax. She was alone at her desk on the third floor of the Vinyl Institute, while other employees were outside the office at a conference when the quake hit.
"I heard the shaking," she said. "I could see pieces of the building falling on the stairs."
The Presbyterian Meeting House, built in the 1800s, experienced significant cracks in its walls.