By Kaitlin Mayhew -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- The occupants of at least 18 units at a local apartment complex were left temporarily homeless after Tuesday's earthquake shattered water pipes, causing the units to flood.
Warren County Fire Chief Richard Mabie said the water leaks at Shenandoah Commons off John Marshall Highway resulted from shaking from the quake, which caused joints in the PVC water pipes to break.
The 5.8-magnitude quake, centered in Louisa County, struck just before 2 p.m.
It was the strongest to hit the East Coast in nearly 70 years.
Edith Williams, 75, said she was getting ready to go to work when the earthquake struck.
"I heard this rattling," she said. "I thought somebody [upstairs] had dropped something on the floor."
Williams lives on the first floor of building 21 in the complex.
She said that soon after she felt the earthquake, water started spewing from the sprinklers on her ceiling.
Williams' kitchen, front room, living room and dining room were completely ruined along with all of her possessions.
She said she didn't even bother to look at the condition of the bedroom.
"As long as I have my life, that's more important," she said.
Danny Batson, 28, another occupant of building 21, said he also thought the shaking was due to upstairs neighbors.
"They can be pretty bad about that," said Batson, who lives on the second floor.
But when his water heater exploded, he knew it was more than just loud neighbors.
"The feed got loose and water came gushing out both ways," he said. "Half the apartment's kind of trashed. There's still water coming out of the sprinklers. It's been about 45 minutes."
Capt. Marti Viggiano, deputy emergency coordinator for the Warren County Fire and Rescue Department, said that one option for relocation is to create a shelter in the gym of Skyline High School.
"They've been given a heads-up," she said. "We can keep a shelter going there as long as we need to."
The Red Cross will come with trailers and supply cots, food, toiletries and other essentials for the displaced occupants, Viggiano said.
As of 5:30 p.m., however, only five people and two pets were in need of emergency relocation, she said, meaning they did not have a place to stay with family or friends.
Unless demand increases, the Red Cross probably will place the displaced people in hotels instead of using the school, Viggiano said.
The Humane Society will provide temporary placement for pets, according to Mabie.
Shenandoah Commons, located at 9 Shenandoah Commons Way, consists
of nine buildings, each with 12 units, four on each floor.
The exact number of occupants who had to evacuate their homes is unclear, Mabie said, but all residents of building 21 would definitely be relocated, and the rest of the 18 temporarily uninhabitable apartments were in buildings 23 and 25.
Mabie confirmed that every part of the complex was affected to some degree except for building 19.