UPDATE: No Local Damage Reported from Virginia Quake
Power outage in Barnegat following tremors felt up and down the east coast
The earthquake that shook much of the east coast this afternoon appears to have caused little or no damage in Barnegat or other parts of the Jersey Shore.
The 5.9 magnitude quake, which hit just before 2 p.m., was centered in central Virginia, near the town of Mineral and about halfway between the cities of Richmond and Charlottesville, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which tracks earthquakes.
Barnegat Township administrator David Breeden said the township recieved many phone calls following the tremor, but no serious damage was reported.
One resident reported cracked plaster, Breeden said, and power was knocked out on Memorial Drive. There were also many reports of cell phones not working, he said – a problem that the state Office of Emergency Management is attributing to high call volume immediately after the quake.
Barnegat resident Jim Spaschak said he was at his sister's house in the township when everything started to shake.
"I was sitting on the deck, and all of a sudden I felt it move," he said. "It went on for awhile. My girlfriend's daughter called and said, 'Mom, the house is shaking,' and then I knew it was an earthquake."
Spaschak said he'd felt a similar tremor years ago in New Hampshire. "But I've never felt anything like that around here."
Several readers wrote on the Barnegat Patch Facebook page to say they felt shaking in the township, as well as in Stafford and on Long Beach Island.
Laura O'Loughlin, who lives in Settlers Landing, said her house shook, fans moved and a chandelier swayed back and forth. "My 4 kids were so upset and crying asking what was happening and I was a bit panicked myself," she said.
At the beach on LBI, "the chairs were swaying back and forth," wrote Laurie Agnone Passenti. "Everyone stood up and looked at each other in shock!"
The Ocean County Office of Emergency Management said there have been no reports of structural damage or any problems as a result of the tremor. Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station was put on a low-level alert, but continued normal operations.
A statement from Gov. Chris Christie's office said no injuries or fatalities have been reported, and there are no reports of damage to the state’s infrastructure, including roads, bridges, dams, reservoirs, power grids, transit systems and nuclear power plants.
Trains, buses and light rail are all operating and NJTransit tickets are being cross-honored, according to the statement.
The tremors lasted for about 20 to 30 seconds, and seemed to pick up in intensity before stopping, according to reports.
CNN reported parts of Washington, D.C. were, and a Patch reader texted to say the Amtrak train on which she was traveling near Philadelphia was stopped for about half an hour.
Another reader who lives in Charlottesville, near the quake's epicenter, said she wasn't sure what was happening at first.
"I had just gotten to the gym and was about to get on a rowing machine when the whole building started to shake," said Margaret Marshall in an email. "It actually sounded like an air conditioner on overdrive at first, but then the shaking started, and it kept getting louder and louder. Everyone was just looking around at each other, wondering what the heck was going on."
She said she wasn't even sure how long the earthquake lasted.
"I do know that the building was visibly shaking, and the floor, and it as like nothing I've ever felt before," she said. "And we were all asking each other, 'Was that an earthquake?'"
The USGS is asking anyone who felt the quake to fill out this online form to help them gather information.
The quake felt throughout the region today matches the largest ever recorded in Virginia. The last was in 1897 and located in Giles County, Virginia. It also registered a 5.9 magnitude, according to the geological survey.