Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earthquake rattles Long Island, East Coast

Photo credit: Newsday/Karen Wiles Stabile | Like many office buildings in the area, 2 Huntington Quadrangle in Melville evacuated after tremors were felt from the earthquake in Virginia. (Aug. 23, 2011)

An earthquake centered in Virginia rattled buildings up and down the East Coast Tuesday afternoon, sending office workers and residents around Long Island scurrying out of their buildings or diving for shelter.

Communities including Melville, Shirley and Dix Hills reported feeling the tremor, which came from an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.9, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Cell phone service was briefly overwhelmed and Twitter exploded with reports of the quake.

"Felt the tremors in Blue Point too. My computer chair was jumping & I was sitting in it!" Liz Belmont tweeted after feeling the quake in her home office. Others tweeted that it was felt in Port Washington, Farmingdale, Sea Cliff, Long Beach and Rockville Centre.
The quake was about 290 miles from New York City, the USGS said. It was 3.7 miles deep and centered 25 miles east of Charlottesville, Va., and 35 miles northwest of Richmond, Va., the agency said.
The National Weather Service said no tsunami was expected.
Shaking was felt at the White House and all over the East Coast, as far south as Chapel Hill, N.C., The Associated Press said. Parts of the Pentagon, White House and the Capitol were evacuated, the AP said. National Mall monuments and memorials were closed and evacuated, AP said.
The Long Island Power Authority was reporting no impact on the electric system as a result of the quake, though spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said the tremor was felt on the authority's fourth-floor headquarters on Uniondale. "Heck, yes, I felt it," she said.
Five customers were reported without power, the same number as were out before the quake struck.
LIRR said train service was unaffected and running on or close to schedule.
At LaGuardia Airport, planes continued to take off and land, said an official at a college near the airport.
Cellphones may have seen the first impacts from the earthquake, as callers across the Northeast bombarded the airwaves in an attempt to reach family members and others. There were no reports of structural damage on the networks, just difficulty getting lines.
"The network's operational," said Verizon Wireless spokesman Howard Waterman. "It's just volume. When you have tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people picking up the cellphone to make a call at the same time, many will get through but some won't. It's all volume."
The Suffolk County Police Department said in a news release there were no reports of substantial damage within the police district and asked residents to stay calm.
Suffolk residents who wish to report non-emergency incidents resulting from the earthquake, such as downed trees or wires, are asked to call the Suffolk County Police Department's non-emergency line at 631-852-COPS.
Nassau County police also said there were no reports damage or injuries, said a spokeswoman.
Nassau County government buildings and other buildings on Franklin Avenue in Mineola were among those evacuated.
In Suffolk, one person tweeted that the Stony Brook University library shook.
"Felt the rumble 36 floors up in NYC. Back to work," one person tweeted.

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