East Coast earthquake - 'At first I thought it was thunder'

When the magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck Virginia on Aug. 23, Gretchen Montgomery had just put her daughter down for a nap when the house started to shake.

"At first I thought it was thunder," said Sister Montgomery of the Rivanna Ward, Waynesboro Virginia Stake.

She said the sound was so loud and it did not go away. The house started to shake and she grabbed onto her son's hand.

"I was just frightened for my kids," she said. Her husband was at work and the cell lines were inundated with calls so she was not able to contact him. With no home phone, she relied on email to reach her husband and found out that he was safe.

She noted that she never expected to have an earthquake or hurricane hit Virginia but they came within a week of each other. The epicenter of the quake was about 30 miles away in Mineral, Va. She said that she felt two of the aftershocks and woke up just prior to one that happened at 1 a.m.

"It makes me think of the earthquakes that happen in my life," Sister Montgomery said. "Am I prepared for the spiritual storms? Will I be racing?"

Although it was a frightening experience for her, Sister Montgomery was grateful for the counsel and lessons in Church meetings about emergency preparedness.

"I'm so grateful that I have my food storage, a gallon of water a day per person for two weeks," she said. "That is what we have been told to do. It is so reassuring to have the preparation available for me."

Lowell T. Hayes, field manager of the Washington DC Welfare Bishops' Storehouse, reported that stakes have been able to take care of their own and that there has been minimum impact.

Rick Foster, area welfare manager, said there are strategically placed resources in storehouses throughout the country that are deployed under the direction of local priesthood leaders. After the earthquake, priesthood leaders in the affected areas were contacted to see if help was needed from Church headquarters.

"The Saints were adequately prepared and were able to respond to their needs locally because of the doctrine that we have been taught by priesthood leaders to be prepared," Brother Foster noted.

According to Laurie Williams Sowby, a Church News contributor, Washington DC Temple President Earl C. Tingey reported that four of the six spires on the temple shook so violently that they toppled from the towers, one of them piercing the roof of the "bridge" between the foyer and the temple and another smashing into a support column and rendering a temple van inoperable. Roof repairs were made quickly before the heavy rain generated by Hurricane Irene came two days later.

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