Operations

Rare Shaker Jiggles Virginia Operations

Posted on August 23, 2011

This office at A. Goff Transportation outside of Charlottesville, Va., got rattled by a 5.9 magnitude earthquake about 30 miles away.
This office at A. Goff Transportation outside of Charlottesville, Va., got rattled by a 5.9 magnitude earthquake about 30 miles away.

With a hurricane on the way, a 5.9 magnitude earthquake was the last thing East Coasters expected. Scenes right out of California.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Operator Dan Goff was holding a conference call Tuesday afternoon from the second floor of his Central Virginia home — to discuss preparing his company and vehicles for Hurricane Irene this weekend.

Then, the shaking started. At first he thought a pick-up truck hit his house, or a nuclear power plant in the region erupted. He gathered up his three children, a nanny, and his mother, and they all stood and hugged underneath an upstairs archway of the 6,500 square-foot two-story house until the 10-15 seconds of shaking stopped.

Goff soon realized he experienced something that no limo operator in the eastern U.S. would think of preparing for: A 5.9 magnitude quake more common to California than the hilly, rural Piedmont region of Virginia.

Fortunately, no one was hurt at home or at his business; and the only visible damage so far are some upset offices of Goff’s company, A. Goff Transportation, a 57-vehicle operation. Goff’s house lies on the Greene-Orange counties line, about 14 miles north of Charlottesville and about 30 miles west of the epicenter in Louisa, Va. The small city of Charlottesville, home to the University of Virginia, is the closest concentrated population center to the epicenter in a rural region.

“Our staff and family members were very shaken up,” Goff said. “One staff member we had to drive home. One of my two-year-old twin daughters is still freaked out crying, ‘Wiggle, Wiggle.’ It shook her up in more ways than one.”

About a mile and a half away at A. Goff Transportation headquarters, the office of the assistant general manager looked a bit shaken and disheveled with furniture slightly tipped and folders on the floor. Had she been sitting at her desk, she would have been struck by a safe.

“Our shop manager was herding people outside in case of aftershocks,” Goff said. “Now everyone is looking around asking what they have stacked up that might be unstable. You don’t think about that normally. We’ll go through everything, do an analysis. We’re expecting another shaker aftershock.”

This safe could have hit the assistant general manager at A. Goff Transportation if she had been sitting at her desk during the 5.9 magnitude earthquake that struck central Virginia Tuesday.
This safe could have hit the assistant general manager at A. Goff Transportation if she had been sitting at her desk during the 5.9 magnitude earthquake that struck central Virginia Tuesday.

As rattling as the earthquake was, Goff said he has to stay focused on this weekend; there are multiple bus runs for university students back in town, wedding transportation to be arranged, and clients who need to be evacuated from North Carolina — all of which could become more challenging if Hurricane Irene barrels through eastern and central Virginia. A. Goff Transportation was preparing to evacuate its employees and vehicles from the low-lying city of Norfolk, now standing in the projected path of Irene.

“We could have a major problem with flooding there,” Goff said. “We are preparing for two feet of water.”

Down Interstate 64 in Richmond, Va., about 55 miles southeast of the epicenter, operator Randy Allen of James Limousine reported no injuries, damage, or disruption to his operations which are based in the capital city. “We felt it pretty strong,” Allen said. “It lasted probably 10-15 seconds. The whole building shook. Nothing fell over and nothing came off the walls, at least here.

“The main way our passengers are affected is that anyone going by train is possibly going to incur major delays as they inspect the train lines to make sure there's no damage,” Allen said. “There are no flight delays.”

— Martin Romjue and Michael Campos, LCT Magazine

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