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N.D.'s budget director gets all shook up by D.C. quake

BISMARCK -- North Dakota's budget director was standing in the National Museum of American History on Tuesday when the earthquake hit Washington, D.C.

BISMARCK -- North Dakota's budget director was standing in the National Museum of American History on Tuesday when the earthquake hit Washington, D.C.

In a phone interview late Tuesday afternoon, Pam Sharp said she was looking at the exhibit of Julia Child's kitchen when the floor started shaking and things started banging.

"It took a few moments to figure out what was going on," said Sharp, who is in the city a few days this week to receive a national accounting award.

Sharp, who has never been in an earthquake, wondered if another museum exhibit caused the disturbance or if the subway was rumbling below.

"It took me a few seconds to realize maybe this is an earthquake," she said.

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Sharp said an alarm then went off in the museum, and everyone filed for the exits.

"It wasn't chaos. People were actually walking at a very steady pace toward the door," she said.

When she saw tourists streaming out of other museums along the National Mall, she realized what she felt spanned beyond the one museum and was indeed an earthquake.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake registered magnitude 5.8 and was centered 40 miles northwest of Richmond, Va., the Associated Press reported. The earthquake was felt from South Carolina to New England.

"It was just very unusual," Sharp said. "It was a very unsettling feeling."

Outside, people were calm and were all trying to use their cellphones to make calls or send text messages but couldn't get a signal, she said.

Sharp, who called from her hotel, returns to North Dakota today (Wednesday).

She was honored in Washington, D.C., with the "Outstanding CPA in State Government" award from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

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Finneman reports for Forum Communications Co.

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