Meanwhile, Schenk's mother, Joanne Paull, of Timonium, and friend Joanne Gregory of Towson, were in Washington, D.C., about to take a tour of the White House.

"We had just gone through five checkpoints and were finally in a staging area," Paull said. "All of a sudden, the floor started shaking noticeably.

"Immediately, security routed everyone out of the building. They just kept saying 'Please move along quickly,' and one said 'Please don't panic,' which immediately made us think there was reason to panic.

It wasn't until they were off the White House grounds that someone found out it had been an earthquake — Paull admitted that another thought had crossed her mind.

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"We thought maybe there could have been an explosion somewhere in the building."


At the Edenwald Retirement Community, "things were amazingly calm," said fifth floor resident Betty Walter.

"I was sitting there having Campbell's tomato soup and cheese and crackers when things began shaking," she said.

"But I opened my apartment door and saw nobody else had come out in the hallway. And some people at dinner didn't even mention it, though one old lady said her tea cups had fallen.

"Initially someone told us the quake had occurred somewhere between Towson and White Marsh. Of course that was wrong, but I guess they went with the information they had at the time," she said.

"It was just a blip. There was no hysteria. It give me faith in the wisdom of old age."