NCC on Earthquake Preparedness

The 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck 100 miles south of NCC headquarters sent seismic waves across the East Coast, and some reports indicate they reached as far north as Maine.  Fortunately, other than some light structural damage, the only harm from the quake were a few shaky knees and some irritation as a significant volume of network usage tied up phone lines for hours post-quake.   With phone connections requiring more bandwidth, social networkers resorted to Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail to communicate and receive updates, proof that the 21st century is as data and information intensive as ever.

“I was in the elevator when it happened, the one that was broken for weeks,” one NCC associate remarked.  “I started to complain to the concierge desk when all of the sudden a crowd of people shuffled by me yelling, ‘Earthquake!'”  Many employees evacuated the building, but this reaction was contrary to one member of NCC’s leadership, Lorene Eberhardt, our Director of Operations.  Lorene is originally from California where earthquakes are common, and years of school drills taught her to take shelter under her desk, as seen below in the candid photo snapped by our President and CEO, Chris.  Quickly realizing the quake was a minor one, Lorene and Chris diligently resumed their work, as they were the only employees who did not evacuate.  Other NCC employees were not so accustomed to the natural phenomena.  “I was moderately freaked out,” one employee admitted.

While our headquarters-based employees returned to work and delivered projects on time despite the brief evacuation, other employees at government client sites were left wondering what would happen next.

Several audiovisual team members were putting the finishing touches on the new NIH Director’s conference room.  Projector mounts rattled and 7ft equipment racks, yet to be bolted down, had to be stabilized by our vigilant AV associates.  Systems were operable, but as a precaution NIH and many government agencies asked employees to return home for the day.  Gas leaks and water main breaks were a concern, and officials were not willing to take any risks.  Another NCC employee was on the way to hand deliver verbatim transcripts.  “It felt like a gust of wind was shaking my car,” she recounted, “but the trees weren’t moving.  When I arrived at the client site and saw employees filing out of the building on their cell phones, looking panicked, my first thought was ‘Oh no, there must have been a threat.’”  Understandably, most citizens who live in the nation’s capital 10 years after September 11th don’t automatically think “earthquake” when the ground shakes.

Thankfully, minds were put at ease as Tweets and status updates reached the millions of people who witnessed buildings sway and light fixtures break.  NCC employees shared a few chuckles when they returned to their desks and saw the photo demonstrating the procedure for weathering an earthquake, which our good-humored company president had already e-mailed. “That’s good California Training for you!” Chris noted.  “The whole team was inspired by the calm reaction of our fearless Director of Operations.”