Tremors from a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Virginia were felt for about two minutes as far away as Long Island on Tuesday afternoon.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicenter was in Mineral, Va., in Louisa County, at a depth of about 3.7 miles when the earthquake hit at 1:51 p.m. It was reportedly felt as far north as Rhode Island and as far south as North Carolina.
Nassau County’s Office of Emergency Management was flooded with calls after the tremor hit the Island, a spokeswoman said, but there were no reports of damages or injuries.
“Things are a little busy right now!” said the spokeswoman, who added that “we did feel it” in their office, which is located in a new facility in Grumman’s former Bethpage headquarters. All their systems were up and running, and they reported no disruptions to their service. They were still assembling the reports coming in as the Press spoke with them.
Suffolk County police released a statement “asking residents to remain calm as local officials assess the impact.”
Buildings and homes swayed from the north to the south shore of Long Island from New York City to the East End.
Newark, LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International Airport were temporarily closed while officials checked for damage.
The Long Island Rail Road is reporting that service has not been affected by the tremors.
The court complex in Central Islip was briefly evacuated as a precaution, as was Long Beach city hall, Brookhaven Town Hall and Hempstead Town Hall, where part of the facade suffered minor damage.
“It just separated,” said town spokesman Mike Deery, describing the damage as “a gap about an inch and a half from where it previously was…” He said homeowners should inspect for property damage as well.
Sunbathers at Lido Beach fled the shore on their own.
“So many left the beach , I mean like a mass exodus,” said Mindy Applebaum Tevez of Cedarhurst. “I lost my balance.
“Everybody started standing up and it felt like the Earth move,” she added. “The waves were very very rough right before it happened and right after it happened.”
Shaking was felt at the White House and all over the East Coast, as far south as Chapel Hill, N.C. Parts of the Pentagon, White House and Capitol were evacuated.
Government buildings in New York City, including City Hall, were evacuated.
The 26-story federal courthouse in lower Manhattan began swaying and hundreds of people were seen leaving the building. Court officers weren’t letting people back in.
The last earthquake felt on Long Island was in November when a 3.9 magnitude quake struck 80 miles south of the Hamptons.
Federal officials said two nuclear reactors at the North Anna Power Station in Louisa County, Va., were automatically taken off line by safety systems around the time of the earthquake.
The Dominion-operated power plant is being run off of four emergency diesel generators, which are supplying power for critical safety equipment.
A Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman said the agency was not immediately aware of any damage at nuclear power plants in the southeast. The NRC and Dominion are sending people to inspect the site.
“This is a relatively big earthquake for the Eastern U.S.,” said Daniel Davis, a professor of geophysics at Stony Brook University. “The Eastern U.S. is extremely efficient at transmitting seismic waves over these kinds of distances, its better at it then the west. So you have an equal size earthquake here and in the west, you will feel it better and further in the east.”
-With Associated Press