Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley was at his desk on an otherwise uneventful Tuesday in August when he felt a tremor.
So too was Supervisor Scott Russell. “My desk was swaying and my computer screen was swaying,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if it was real or in my head. I had to ask my secretary.”
It was real, all right. The chief and the supervisor were among an estimated 12 million people up and down the length of the East Coast to feel the magnitude 5.8 quake, the strongest to hit the coast in 67 years. It struck six-tenths of a mile deep in Virginia 84 miles from Washington, D.C. shortly before 2 p.m. on August 23. Authorities evacuated parts of the White House, Capitol and Pentagon and the shaking, which lasted from 10 to 15 seconds, apparently left a crack in the Washington Monument.
There were no reports of damage locally, but it left a lot of people shaken.
Nanette Doroski of Greenport was at home at the time. “The dishing in my china cabinet were shaking and my chair was shaking,” she said. Her husband, John, was up in the attic painting, but he didn’t feel it.
“I ran up and asked him, ‘are you doing anything to shake the house?’” she said.
It wasn’t her first earthquake. She’d felt tremblors when living in the Philippines, “But I never felt anything here, ever.”
Alex Wipf of Cutchogue, who once lived in California, said what felt was “really mild” compared those on West Coast.
His wife was typing when they felt the quake. “She asked me if I was fooling around with her chair,” he said.
In the early 1980s the North Fork shook from an earthquake centered under the Sound 10 miles north of Greenport.