Residents of Mineral, Va., where an earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter originated Tuesday, reported extensive damage to key buildings and the shutdown of a nearby nuclear power station.
David Whitlock, owner of Mineral Auto Parts, said he was outside in his business' parking lot when the quake struck.
It started out sounding as if a train was coming to a sudden stop, that sort of rumbling sound, he said shortly after the event. Then there was a loud explosive type of sound and the ground just lifted me up and set me back down. I had that sort of weightless feeling you get on a roller coaster.
No injuries were reported, but Whitlock said a large plate glass window in his establishment broke out and lots of merchandise on shelves fell down.
Others were not so fortunate.
The owner of Main Street Plumbing and Electrical Supply came by and said he was out of business, Whitlock said. He lost his roof. He could actually see the sky from inside his building.
Whitlock also said the North Anna Power Station, which has two nuclear reactors and is about eight miles away, also shut down, though he did not hear any emergency sirens. The facilities are run by Dominion Power of Virginia.
The earthquake struck around 1:51 p.m. on Tuesday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
In nearby Washington, D.C., three of the National Cathedral's four pinnacles on its central tower toppled after the earthquake, according to eyewitness reports.