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Student from Hawaii describes when earthquake struck

    Members of Sen. Daniel Akaka's Senate staff evacuated the Hart Senate Office Building following a mid-afternoon earthquake in Washington, D.C.

A 2010 Roosevelt High School graduate, Lorin Eleni Gill, was just getting out of the sixth-floor elevator at her American University dormitory when the earthquake struck Tuesday afternoon in Washington.

“I felt the whole building shake and heard a rumbling noise,” Gill, an American University sophomore said.

The shake and tremble could be felt shortly before 2 p.m. on the East Coast. The movement lasted no more than 30 seconds where Gill’s university is located.

“I was just picking up my new fridge and I stepped out of the elevator, and a guy was about to step in the elevator,” she said. “It started shaking, and I heard a rumbling noise. I was really confused, and said, ‘I think we’re in an earthquake.’ He leaped out of the elevator with pure fear on his face, saying ‘I just know I’m not supposed to be in there!’ It lasted for a little bit. It wasn’t too bad.”

“I continued on my way, brought my fridge back, and everybody was out in the halls screaming and laughing. They evacuated all the buildings eventually.”

Fearful of aftershocks, American University officials kept students out of its campus buildings for more than an hour, Gill added.

Gill also was to help with a freshman evening tour of Washington, D.C. tonight, but that outing was placed on hold.

This wasn’t the first time Gill has experienced an earthquake.

“The last time was in Japan several years ago,” she added, “but that was in the middle of the night and I was sleeping. I got up, but I don’t remember what it felt like.”

Jesse Broder Van Dyke, spokesman for Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka, said that 11 members of Akaka’s staff evacuated from the Hart Senate Office Building “a few minutes after the earthquake hit.”

However, Akaka and the rest of Hawaii’s four-member congressional delegation are in the island during Congress’ summer recess.

He said several picture frames on the walls of Akaka’s office were shaken by the quake which he described as “pretty strong.”

Rod Tanonaka, Honolulu district director for Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, said that Capitol Police closed the building and eight members of his staff have been accounted for and “are on hold” as to whether the building would be re-opened Wednesday.

“They are now checking for structural defects,” Tanonaka added.

Susan Michels, Rep. Mazie Hirono’s deputy chief of staff, said that from all indications the Capitol would be re-opened for business on Wednesday.

Michels, however, had to wait half a day to retrieve her car from one of the Capitol’s underground parking garages to make the evening commute to Falls Church, Va. where she lives.

She said that most of Hirono’s eight staff members and interns live within the District of Columbia and didn’t need a car to get home.

“We weren’t quite sure what happened,” Michels said. “In DC., it could have been anything.”

Michels said initially she thought that it was an aftermath of an explosion.

Her staff evacuated to a small park near the Longworth House Office Building minutes after the quake hit which knocked “several things off the shelf.”

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