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“An intact bell rings more loudly than a cracked bell and that’s essentially what the crust is on the East Coast,” USGS seismologist Lucy Jones told a news conference in Pasadena, Calif.

In the East, hurricanes are the worry far more than quakes. Former FEMA chief Witt said people on the West Coast know what to do in an earthquake: drop to the floor, cover their heads and hold on to something sturdy until the shaking stops.

That’s what USGS’s Applegate did in Virginia.

“It’s seared in our heads,” said USGS seismologist Susan Hough in Pasadena. “People back East don’t get that kind of preparedness message.”

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Alicia Chang contributed from Los Angeles.

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Online:

USGS: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/

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