Earthquake felt throughout Connecticut
Published 2:35 pm, Wednesday, August 24, 2011
A 5.8-magnitude earthquake with its epicenter near Washington, D.C., was felt throughout Connecticut and the rest of the East Coast on Tuesday afternoon.
The quake prompted the evacuation of thousands of state workers, including those at the state Capitol in Hartford. State police -- who were busy Tuesday afternoon answering calls about the quake -- said it did not cause any damage in the state and Northeast Utilities also had no immediate reports of power outages or problems.
The 5.9-magnitude earthquake Tuesday afternoon was centered northwest of Richmond, Va. It shook much of Washington, D.C., and was felt as far north as Montreal and Vermont, and as far south as South Carolina.
The shaking around western Connecticut lasted as long as a minute.
"My chair started rolling," said Bruce Nadlet of Jarrod Drive in Danbury. "I was swaying."
In New Milford, Bob Driscoll of Auto Technic on Route 7 said the store felt two of three major shakes, then a series of smaller ones for a total of about a minute.
"The light in the ceiling was swaying, the floor was shaking, the water in the cooler was sloshing,'' he said.
In Ridgefield, Town Clerk Barbara Serfilippi was having lunch when on the second floor of Town Hall when it began to shake.
"People on the second floor hurried down to the first floor," Sefilippi said. "I went in and locked the vault so the town records would be safe. But by the time we got ready to evacuate, the shaking stopped, so we were just standing in the Town Hall hallway.''
Play at the New Haven Open tennis tournament was delayed and the Yale Tennis Center was evacuated because of the tremors.
Howard Lasher of Newtown, who was at the tournament, praised its staff for making sure the Municipal buildings in several cities throughout Fairfield and New Haven counties were evacuated.
People left the stadium without fuss or panic.
"It was very efficient," he said. "The staff was very calm and very courteous. The food was delicious, too."
A woman who answered the phone at Weston Observatory in New Hampshire, which tracks earthquakes, said, "We are having a large earthquake that we are trying to track at the moment."
"We are being inundated (with calls)."
Stamford police dispatchers reported receiving multiple calls about the ground shaking and there were reports of people leaving some office buildings on Summer Street.
In Newtown, Sybil Blau looked at her computer screen and saw it shaking. At the same time, she said, the vibrations ran through her house.
"I didn't know what was happening," Blau said. "I looked out my window to see if a heavy truck was rolling by. It was very frightening."
"I was in a colleague's office when it started shaking," Siedlecki said. "We both looked each other and said `Did you feel that?" Then I poked my head out into the hallway and everyone was poking their heads out, saying `Did you feel that?'' The whole building was shaking. It was rocking and rolling."
Sullivan-Independence Hall in Fairfield was evacuated briefly when the tremor was felt, although employees at old Town Hall next door remained at their desks.
Sgt. Suzanne Lussier, a Fairfield police spokeswoman, said the department received several calls about the "quake," but no reports of damage. "It was felt all over town," she said.
In Westport, police Capt. Sam Arciola reported that his department has received several calls about the quake, but that no damage or injuries had so far been reported.
That was echoed by Fire Chief Andrew Kingsbury, who said other than calls from the public, there have been no reports of damage in Westport.
Westport Town Hall was not evacuated.
Greenwich police and fire officials said they had a number of calls from concerned residents wondering if there had been an earthquake.
They did not respond to any calls for help.
"Everything was fine" at the hospital, according to George Pawlush, Vice President of public relations and community affairs for Greenwich Hospital. Facilities did a walk through of the building to make sure everything was OK.
"We are fully operational," she said, adding that a full inspection of the airport was conducted and no damage was found.
Allen Brown, executive director of the Nathaniel Witherell nursing home, said everything is fine there, too. He said employees felt vibrations for about five seconds. He was on an audio teleconference at the time of the quake. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services conducted the teleconference. Brown said the teleconference was based out of the Maryland area.
"There was an interruption in the transmission," Brown said.
After the transmission resumed, a voice on the other end said, "It was an earthquake, but don't worry, the building is still standing."
"All of a sudden, the building started to wiggle underneath us and the newspaper rack was shaking, too," Esposito said.
"I turned around and I could see all of the drinks in the cooler swaying. I felt it for a good, solid minute, maybe a minute-and-a-half. You don't expect something like this, not in New Milford."
Bridgeport spokeswoman Elaine Ficarra said the earthquake startled many residents, but no notable destruction has been reported.
"We have received numerous calls at our Emergency Operations Call Center from people reporting that their house was shaking or their doors were shaking or whatever," she said. "We have not at this moment heard of any major damage."
She added, "I have heard there were some buildings that were evacuated temporarily."
"The clock on the wall was shaking like crazy," Lukac said, adding that his two dogs seemed perplexed by what was happening. "It's an old building and I thought it was coming down. It wasn't until my neighbors came in that I learned it was an earthquake."
Milford Mayor James L. Richetelli Jr. said that two residents called the fire department's dispatch center, not 911, "just to report that they had felt the tremor. We also got one phone call in my office, again just wanting to let us know that they had felt it. We have had no reports or damage and we didn't evacuate any buildings. I didn't feel it myself and didn't know anything about it until we got that phone call.''
Priscilla Lynn said that the desks in her Devon public relations agency were shaking and she felt vibrations in the floor. "We all looked at each other, wondering what was going on," she said.
The Aquarion Water emergency operations center is still evaluating the effect of the earthquake on the company's water system, company spokesman Lorraine Bukowski said. So far, there are no reports of effects.