WASHINGTON -- The strongest quake to strike the East Coast since World War II has left cracks in the Washington monument and also damaged the National Cathedral.
Geologists were measuring for aftershocks Tuesday following the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that rattled the East Coast.
The temblor, which lasted for only a few seconds, was strong enough to rattle the White House and buildings in 22 states.
"The windows were shaking pretty strongly, so you could hear the noise like bam, bam, bang," one Washington, D.C. resident said.
"It came in sort of like two stages," another resident recalled. "There was the first wave and then sort of a secondary wave that came afterward."
"It felt like my chair was moving," another person added.
The 5.8 magnitude quake rocked tens of millions of people on the East Coast from Georgia to Canada.
It originated in Mineral, Va., a farming community 40 miles northwest of Richmond, Va.
Surveillance video taken inside a Mineral grocery store showed the intensity of the quake as products were thrown from shelves.
Scientists say the location of the earthquake's epicenter saved lives.
"If the earthquake was centered farther east or farther west, we probably would have had significantly more damage and potentially casualties," said Dr. David Wald with the U.S. Geological Survey.
Just 15 minutes from Mineral sits the North Anna nuclear power station. The earthquake caused both of its reactors to automatically shut down. Another nuclear power plant located two hours away also shut down.
Company officials said no radiation was released and they haven't discovered any major damage. Both plants, they explained, were built to seismic standards.
One California woman seemed unfazed by Monday's quake since by West Coast standards, a 5.8 temblor is mild.
"I'm from California, so I'm kind of used to it," she said.
But East Coast residents are not. Virginia hasn't felt such a powerful quake in more than 100 years.
Buildings in New York City, Baltimore and Washington suffered some damage.
Robert Villanti, a 700 Club partner, was in the middle of an interview with CBN when the quake began to shake his Staten Island, N.Y. home. Watch below:
"The floors were literally rolling and you could see the sides of the columns in the building moving like this," she said. "The cases were shaking and stuff was falling out."
Masons are examining damage to the building's pinnacles and other iconic architectural details.
The earthquake came just weeks before the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Some say they're thankful the earthquake wasn't an explosion as some had first feared.
"It felt a little like unnerving when your floor is swaying and you're on the 21st floor," one East Coast resident said.
Although earthquakes are rare on the East Coast, scientists say this one is consistent with what they know about the way the Earth moves in Virginia.