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Aug 23, 2011 2:23 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Virginia Earthquake Is Felt On South Fork Tuesday

Aug 24, 2011 11:08 AM

A 5.8-magnitude earthquake with its epicenter in Virginia struck shortly before 2 p.m. Tuesday, causing tremors that were felt locally.

The epicenter was about 41 miles north of Richmond, Virginia. Don Blakeman, a geophysicist with the National Earthquake Information Center, said he expects it was felt extensively throughout the Northeast and Southeast. “It’s going to be felt very widely,” he said.

Vibrations were felt for a few seconds on the East End shortly after the earthquake occurred at 1:51 p.m. Some buildings in New York City were evacuated, witnesses reported.

Suffolk County Police asked residents to remain calm and said no substantial damage had been reported as of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo wrote in an email that no damage to buildings, bridges, roads, power grids, the Indian Point nuclear power plant, or other infrastructure had been reported as of about 2:45 p.m.

A Southampton Town Police dispatcher said the department received many calls in the minutes after the earthquake from people wanting to know what had happened.

Coastal areas, including Long Island, were alerted that localized tsunamis could occur if land “slipped” during the earthquake, Southampton Town Police Lieutenant Robert P. Iberger wrote in an email Tuesday afternoon. As of Wednesday morning, none had occurred.

East End residents, most of whom were experiencing an earthquake for the first time, described being initially confused by the vibrations.

Mike and Karoline Kelsen, as well as their son, Jack, 5, were at their home office on Brook Road in Westhampton Beach when the earthquake hit. At first, Mr. Kelsen thought his son, who was banging his toys, caused the floor to shake. But then he noticed his architect’s lamp swaying, and started surfing the internet for information.

“That was the big excitement of the day,” said Ms. Kelsen. Added Mr. Kelsen, “We’ve never experienced anything like this on the East Coast. I can’t believe we had an earthquake.”

Carolyn Joyce of Shinnecock Hills said she was reading when she felt a rumble. “It was almost as if you’re in Manhattan and you’re standing on a vent and a subway car goes by,” she said. “In retrospect, it’s worrisome.”

Judy McCarthy, clerk of the Westhampton Beach Union Free School District, said staff evacuated the district office. “It felt as though you were on a boat,” she said. “I felt swaying, and I thought it was my equilibrium, that something was wrong. I got up and I turned around and I saw the blind cords swaying, so I knew it was a physical thing, and I knew I wasn’t crazy.”

Stephanie Wagner, who works in the Quogue Village office, said a colleague’s husband called and told them an earthquake had happened.

“We felt it, slight movement,” she said. “We were, like, ‘Wow.’ Definitely took your breath away. We’ve had a few calls already from residents asking whether we felt it or if it was their imagination.”

Some residents, though, said they had a hunch they knew what was happening.

“I thought it was me at first, that I was getting dizzy,” said Everett Griffiths, the owner of Bucket’s Deli in East Hampton. Then he noticed a dustbin hanging on the wall was shaking. “Everett, it ain’t you,” he recalled saying. “We must be having an earthquake.”

Reporters Rohma Abbas, Laura Cooper, Lisa Finn and Virginia Garrison contributed to this story.

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Here at The Press's offices in Southampton, we all felt it shaking our chairs as we sat at our desks. Curious what other people felt throughout the area, and if you knew it was an earthquake right away...
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (206), Hampton Bays on Aug 23, 11 5:51 PM
I was in conca dora in sag harbor and i looked up and saw the lights swaying back and fourth and thought there is no wind and that really only happens during earthquakes. (the pendulum effect)
By warrior2673 (3), southampton on Aug 23, 11 6:53 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Aug 23, 11 6:56 PM
Never knew a thing. There was construction going on. Carol
By Carol (109), East Quogue on Aug 23, 11 6:58 PM
1 member liked this comment
I was parked talking to my cousin in the seat of the trash truck.

I got totally distracted out of the blue, completely lost my train of thought, then about 30 seconds later, the truck started rocking back, and forth. We thought it was one of the guys messing around, rocking the truck, but apparently not.

Thinking back, it kinda' felt like a million people yelling "HOLY S**T!", when that train of thought jumped it's tracks.
Aug 25, 11 8:11 PM appended by Mr. Z
Complete, momentary, unadulterated, sensory overload. There was a disturbance, "in the force...".
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 23, 11 8:11 PM
I was Near Lily Pond Lane when it started rockin...saw a secret service type SUV like the ones that escort Biden when he is here . It was a Navigator not a GM but it had the same secret service lights on it . It was in a big hurry leaving the area... I bet Bill and Hill called there vacation early.
By joe hampton (3461), south hampton on Aug 23, 11 9:21 PM
Felt like the subway running underfoot, except I was in EH Village.
By bailey (52), East Hampton on Aug 24, 11 2:52 PM
You don't read Dan's Papers, do you?
By VOS (1241), WHB on Aug 24, 11 10:53 PM
I was suprised when my grandson, a recent graduate of SHS now in Alferd State, called to ask if we felt the earthquake. way down here in Fla we never felt any shaking. :)
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Aug 24, 11 4:39 PM