Since my contract at the Kerry campaign ended a few weeks ago I have been spending most afternoons at the Barnes & Noble Cafe on 12th Street between F and E Streets. This store is right next door to the Arnold & Porter building on 12th Street, the site of today’s Anthrax scare in Washington D.C. Incidentally, this is only a few blocks from the White House.
Shortly after 2:00 PM I got off the train at the Metro Center stop and immediately followed a woman towards 12th Street where I saw her step over a yellow police tape blocking the sidewalk to 12th Street. I too stepped over it, rounded the corner and saw her standing on the sidewalk. The street had 2-3 cop cars and a fire truck in it, and a small amount of activity. No sign of a serious incident.
Since I wanted to go to the B&N store I had to walk all the way around the block, only to find an employee guarding the entrance who told me that the store was closed and had been evacuated. I walked over to the nearest cop and asked what was going on. He said the entire block had been quarantined because of a “hazardous material” in the building. It still did not sound serious to me so I walked to the Starbucks on 14th so I could check email.
At about 3:30 PM, I walked back to 12th Street to find that the block was still roped off and there were an abnormally large number of police cars and fire trucks in the street. I knew immediately that the B&N would still be closed so I went to the Starbucks on 11th Street. While there I overheard a guy talking to someone else saying that his building (the Arnold & Porter building) had an Anthrax scare and that someone had opened a package that contained a note saying “You have just been exposed to Anthrax”. He said that this happened shortly after 2:00 PM.
To think that had I arrived to the B&N Cafe just 15 minutes earlier today that I would have been evacuated with the rest of the store and possibly exposed to Anthrax disturbs me. However, I understand that these are the times we live in and there is little I can do to prevent such occurances.
Update: Wonkette is all over this, and reports that it was not Anthrax but a “blistering agent”. This is good news, though I’m still upset that my favorite remote office location was closed for the afternoon.
Posted by Cameron Barrett at May 6, 2004 04:50 PM