NEW YORK (AP) - A 5.9 magnitude earthquake centered northwest of Richmond, Va., shook much of Washington, D.C., and was felt as far north as Rhode Island and Ohio, including WNY.
Shaking buildings led to evacuations Tuesday in New York City as tremors from a 5.9 magnitude earthquake centered northwest of Richmond, Va. rattled the ground.
Government buildings in the city, including City Hall, were temporarily evacuated, disrupting New Yorkers and their plans.
In Buffalo, Heddie Swanson was in her apartment on North Street making jewelry when she felt the earthquake. Swanson said, "Things started moving, and then with the second jolt, my scissors, which were hanging on the wall, started banging against the wall. It takes a good jolt, I know that from my experience."
Swanson had spent many years living in Los Angeles and has lived through numerous quakes. Nearby, Brian Lowry says he knew something was up as he rode his bike on Elmwood at Allen.
"I was riding on my bike and I felt the ground start shaking, and I figured we had an earthquake. I'm like, 'Something's not right.' I got off the bike and thought for a minute and thought, 'Something's going on here,'" said Lowry.
Lowry called his uncle, who verified WNY had felt the quake. Tell us your story in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter . We'll have more reaction and the latest from local earthquake experts on News 4 at 5 and 6.
Valerie Grif, 19, was tearful as she stood in a full-length wedding gown on the sidewalk outside the city's marriage bureau. She had been waiting inside for her fiancé to arrive when officers started ordering, "Exit the building right now!" she said. She hadn't felt the building shake and was confused.
"I didn't feel anything. I couldn't feel it," she said. Now, "I don't know what's happening, if I'm getting married today."
On the eighth floor of the same building, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance was starting a press conference on the high-profile case involving Dominique Strauss-Kahn when the floor began shaking back and forth. Reporters in the room at first thought colleagues behind them were pushing their chairs. But within a few seconds, the sense that something larger was happening took hold. "Get him out of here!" the DA's security team said and ushered the district attorney and the others out of the room.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and his chief executives were in a meeting about security for the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in his 14th-floor office when the earthquake hit.
"There was a distinct rumbling under our feet and then a movement," chief police spokesman Paul Browne said.
He said they learned within a minute that it was an earthquake.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was half a mile deep. It was centered near Louisa, Va., which is northwest of Richmond and south of Washington. Tremors were felt across New York state, from Buffalo to Long Island and as far north as Lake Placid, N.Y.
Rosemary Krzemien, 55, a retired embroidery machine operator in Warsaw, N.Y., 50 miles east of Buffalo, said she was relaxing on her couch when she felt a strong tremor that rattled a floor lamp, ornaments and a picture on the wall. She leapt up and ran out of her apartment house.
"I had no clue at first. I thought, we're having a lot of road construction round here. I'm thinking maybe they hit something ... As soon as I got off my couch, I thought, we're having an earthquake because the whole building was shaking. I could see everything in here moving. I have a floor lamp — that was moving. Some of my knickknacks were moving. The biggest thing was, I couldn't believe how much I was moving on my couch," she said, laughing heartily.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement saying the State Office of Emergency Management was monitoring the earthquake, and that there were no reports of damage to buildings, bridges, roads, power grids, the Indian Point nuclear power plant, or other infrastructure. Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokeswoman Diane Screnci said the nuclear plants at Nine Mile Point on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario were not affected.
The quake struck only six months after New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said earthquake resistance of the Indian Point nuclear power plants north of New York City should be considered. Regulators are weighing a request for new licenses that will keep the plants working into the 2030s.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said there were no reports of damage in New York City, and said the city had activated the Office of Emergency Management's Situation Room.
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spokesman Ron Marsico says Newark Liberty, JFK and LaGuardia International Airports were all shut down briefly as control towers were evacuated.
He says that planes were taking off and landing again by about 3 p.m.
He also says the agency's PATH trains were not
affected and that its George Washington Bridge and Lincoln and Holland Tunnels are open to traffic.
The unexpected rattling led thousands of people to rush out of buildings on Manhattan's West Side.
Terry Chamberlain, an account executive with Hudson Yards, said he was sitting at his computer.
"I felt I was having vertigo, that it was me," he said. "Then the monitor moved. I got up and I could hear things moving in the ceiling."
Standing nearby was Rajesh Pahurkar. "At first, I thought I was dizzy, then I looked around and everyone looked surprised," he said.
He said he ran out of the building because "during 9/11, I was there, so I didn't want to take chances."
In Lake Placid, Karen Caligiore felt the tremors at her job as an office manager for Dragon, Benware, Crowley and Co., an accounting firm in the picturesque Adirondack Mountain village.
"I was sitting at the computer and a colleague was leaning on the table right next to me. I thought she was shaking the table," she said. "But then several others came out of their offices and asked if we felt the floor shake. We all said the floor was shaking."
Associated Press Writers Tom Hays and Larry Neumeister in New York City, Ben Dobbin in Rochester, John Kekis in Syracuse and Geoff Mulvihill in Haddonfield, N.J., contributed to this report.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
A Good Samaritan died Wednesday while trying to assist the driver of a tractor trailer who got stuck in the snow.
A 26-year-old male employee of Ying's Wings and Things told police that Haibo Jiang, also known as Jimmy Ying, choked him until he passed out.
Viewers sent in photos from the snowfall around Western New York on December 11, 2013.
Intense Lake Snow Weakens Tonight; Strengthens & Shifts N Thur PM
A local family is still seeking justice for a father's violent death. This comes after the man originally convicted of the crime--- was set free--- after police say they had the wrong man all along. But the victim's family says otherwise.
Lewiston Police say they were able to follow tracks through the snow to the home of a suspected burglar, where they recovered $6,000 in stolen property.