August 23, 2011 / Brooklyn news / The Greatest Story Ever

EARTHQUAKE! Now with pictures, too!

The Brooklyn Paper
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Yes, that was an earthquake.

A 15-second-lomg tremor shook much of Brooklyn at around 1:50 pm today, with the shockwaves felt from Sunset Park to Downtown, where sleepy skyscraper-confined workers like yours truly were jolted to life.

This being 2011, most of the immediate reaction came in on Twitter.

“The Department of Education building just shook, and everyone is evacuating,” tweeted MsLoveBomb.

“OMG, we just had an earthquake,” tweeted John Woody (aka iAmFASHION4ward). “The whole Downtown Brooklyn just started rocking.”

Inside the CNG Building at MetroTech Center at Jay Street and Myrtle Avenue, columnist Joanna DelBuono jumped out of her desk and calmly stated “I think that was an earthquake, and I’m outta here.”

She promptly left the room, and took the elevator — against the wishes of her concerned co-workers — to the first floor.

Downstairs, students from NYU-Polytechnic University, students and faculty gathered in the commons. People could also be seen looking curiously down from windows high above Downtown.

Columbia University seismologists measured the earthquake as a 5.9 originating in central Virginia.

“We felt that whole shockwave from there,” said seismologist Mitchell Gold.

Brooklyn is on the North American plate which runs from the center of the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. There are several smaller fault lines in the area, including two in uptown Manhattan and one in Dobbs Ferry, a quaint town along the Hudson River.

But the area has historically had little seismic activity.

In June, 2010, Brooklynites experienced tremors from a 5.0-magnitude earthquake originating from Canada, though there were no reports of serious damage.

Seismologists believe that the city is susceptible to an earthquake of at least a 5.0 magnitude about once per century, and that a magnitude-6 earthquake affects the area about once every 670 years.

In Tuesday’s event, cellphone and land-line service was briefly overwhelmed as residents rushed to talk to friends and relatives and find out what happened.

On Carroll Street in the Columbia Street Waterfront District, Caitlin Deliso said she thought the disturbance was caused by nearby construction on Summit Street.

“The whole apartment was moving. Like, rocking. Some dishes were clanging a bit. It felt like when there was construction going on,” she said. “But no one was working there at that point.”

IKEA, the Red Hook furniture superstore, reportedly evacuated the Beard Street building.

Others didn’t know what to think.

“I thought my partner was rocking my chair as a joke,” said Ed Bahlman of Sunset Park, who called this newspaper at the first sign of trouble.

“But then she said she wasn’t and we realized something was wrong.”

Bahlman said he was shaken — and not just literally — by the geologic event.

“If it can happen in Brooklyn, it’s scary,” he said.

Return back for more on this quivering story.

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Reader Feedback

Jayelle Marie from Flatbush Brooklyn says:
The second floor of my house starts creaking, then the couch I'm sitting in starts rocking. Legit Earthquake in Brooklyn, New York.
Aug. 23, 2011, 2:20 pm
Eddie from Williamsburg says:
im in tha bedroom when i feel the bed move and i listen the neighboor screaming earthquake earthquake, my second floor moved 30 second almst
Aug. 23, 2011, 2:33 pm
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
It shook here too for about 30 seconds back and forth..

no apparent damage here at least...

no loss of cell phones or internet...
Aug. 23, 2011, 2:36 pm
Eddie from Williamsburg says:
that truth NYC loved shaked and ROCK N ROLL, Always fashionable
Aug. 23, 2011, 2:37 pm
Skippy from Park Slope says:
I was on the john and got splashed.
Aug. 23, 2011, 2:57 pm
Sharon from Flatbush says:
I thought I wasn't feeling well because I felt so dizzy all of a sudden....I really got nervous. I legit screamed out to my mom--I"m gonna faint! but then I saw the table was really shaking, so I figured it was a slight earthquake. Wierd!!!
Aug. 23, 2011, 3:01 pm
cheryl from upstate says:
My elderly mom in Brighton Beach called me, frightened like crazy! She grabbed her Walker, medicine pills, cell phone & change of clothes, then ill advisedly took the elevator to the ground floor from her 13th floor apartment. Due to her breathing problems she settled into management's air conditioned space. She wonders whether she can safely return to her apartment.
Aug. 23, 2011, 3:12 pm
Marie from Red Hook says:
I was on my computer when my monitor began to shake. Then I felt the floor move and knew it was time leave the builidng.
Aug. 23, 2011, 4:01 pm
tupelo35 from windsor terrace says:
my first reactions were:

Obama had an idea.

Chuckie Schumer made another earth shaking announcement.

Gov. Christie tripped in Hoboken.
Aug. 23, 2011, 4:10 pm
Bevd from Red hook ,Carroll gdns says:
Was at work having lunch, thought that the lady that was sharing my table was wiggling the table. I felt dizzy than thought due to construction in our building 345 Adams street A possible beam might be swaying. We all than started to look out window saw crowds still no one thought it startling till they heard 5.8 earthquake. Myself and others were already going down stairwell.
Aug. 23, 2011, 4:49 pm
Alisha from Brownsville says:
Im at my mother house visiting when i thought my dog was itching against the couch. But i realized that it was trembling too quick feeling as though it was sliding and realized something was wrong. My mom noticed it had to b a earthquake cause the tissue was shaking aas though it was dancing on the bathroom rack. I was scared!
Aug. 23, 2011, 4:53 pm
Gershlike from PPW says:
Finally! A story where you don't copy and paste a press release about the bike lane! Congratulations.
Aug. 23, 2011, 5:28 pm
nancy from coney says:
i was in bklyn botanic garden felt nothing when got 2 park shore rd no one said anything guess if outdoors no one felt anything
Aug. 23, 2011, 9:36 pm
Nestor from Coney island says:
Went to turn on tv and floor started swaying cat bowl dish water splashed and desk shook thought it was construction but no trucks nothing outside
Aug. 23, 2011, 11:30 pm
Joe Nardiello from Carroll Gardens says:

What a jolt, eh? We were just back in Brooklyn from Los Angeles (or all places) -- and about to take the kids over to Prospect Park zoo. Although our place does get some subway-train rattle here & there (as the first house off of Smith/Union Sts. with the F and G rumbling by), it didn't take too many seconds to know the entire house was wobbling -- and with one word "earthquake!", we ushered the kids out to the sidewalk (to get outside of the old brick row house).

Bizarrely, the people walking by outside didn't feel a thing and there were no sounds of emergency vehicles (which was good, too) -- and I'd thought: "Was it just us?".. Within minutes, the street was filled with neighbors -- all calling to each other & walking over to share their experiences -- and it was clear, it was an earthquake. Oddly, anyone walking outside didn't feel what people in Buildings (or, their cars) clearly experienced. Quick calls to friends & neighbors, and there was no news of any damage -- which was great news.

After checking for any new cracks on the facades of buildings here, and advising neighbors to check their basements (just in case) for gas leaks -- it was safe enough to go about our day, just with a surreal story. Walked around the block, and there was no one panicking -- and the kids in Carroll Park didn't feel a thing, either. (Nice to know, Brooklyn can shrug off an earthquake if it had to.)

The Prospect Park zoo became comforting -- at that. You know what people say.. that 'animals have some sort of way of early warning system' for impending natural disasters?... well, they were ALL seemingly content from the seals to the ducks to the baboons and bats. They were calm, so I'd convinced myself that we'd be all-right -- and get through this OK, too.
Aug. 24, 2011, 5:23 pm
aileen figueroa from Red hook says:
Iam still afraid to go back in my building. I was there for 911 in the area that day. It just brought back all of those memory that took so long to leave behine. Now Iam just nervies all the time in the apartment. Don't feel safe, can't sleep 2 days now. I felt like it was happening all over again. :(
Aug. 25, 2011, 7:49 pm
Moe from Clinton Hill says:
Well I think we need more fracking in New York not only can we ruin our water but shake things up a bit too.
Oct. 17, 2012, 9:57 am

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