A 5.8 quake is considered mild-moderate, but will give quite a jolt to those who are close to the epicenter. As explained on CNN, the reason it was so widely felt is the geology of the east coast, which is basically all on a single plate of solid rock, allowing the energy to flow further and more efficiently. In California, with all our fault lines to break the momentum, a 5.8 quake wouldn't be felt 100 miles away, let alone several hundred.
My problem was watching people back east doing all the wrong things, like running out into the street. Cripes, people get under a desk and stay inside unless you want to be lacerated by flying glass and pounded by debris. During a major quake, more people will die by running out of buildings than by staying put and riding it out in a protected place. They don't even know this in D.C., where they were evacuated buildings right and left. All those people milling around outside are sitting ducks if the quake turned out to have been a precursor to a larger one. Fortunately, there didn't appear to be serious damage, as I didn't even see any broken windows in the high-rises of D.C., although unreinforced masonry buildings, like the cathedral, will no doubt suffer more damage.
When I was a kid, we had a quake so severe that it slammed my entire bed across a carpeted room, with me in it! Now that's an earthquake!
There are lots of responses but we know our efforts would be wasted. No single city has the means to fund the type of preemptive measures to protect itself in New Orleans Case. The disaster was comparable or worse than Chernobyl financially and in human devastation. 3 days is hardly enough time, and New Orleans has a history of neglect by the government and repeat flooding. I really doubt the president's ineptitude has to do with him being white, but in neglecting New Orleans it fits the boot like every other white politician or technocrat that has abused and neglected the city.