Trevor Christian and Alyssa Carroll contributed reporting to this story.
Students at Stony Brook University reacted on Tuesday afternoon to an unusually strong earthquake that struck in Virginia and sent shockwaves up and down the eastern seaboard
“The entire SAC shook,” said Debbie Machelow, the Executive Vice President of the Undergraduate Student Government. She was in the USG offices on the second floor of the SAC when the initial tremors struck at around 1:55pm. “There were maybe two or three tremors. It lasted at most a minute.”
Thomas Kirnbauer, the USG Treasurer, was in the College of Business offices in Harriman Hall and felt his chair vibrate. “I was sitting there, leaning back in the chair and it started to shake,” he said.
Not everyone felt the tremors though.
“I was on the train, I didn’t feel anything and I didn’t see anyone or hear anyone talking about it when I got here,” said Ken Udoji, a student who was working in the Library shortly after the quake. I didnt know that we got that many earthquakes on the east coast.”
A number of Stony Brook students took to the Internet to complain they hadn’t felt the earthquake, even if a few of them noted the irony of wanting to experience the tremors. “Everyone had an earthquake but me,” said a disappointed student.
Think Culture Editor Alyssa Carroll was working in the Provost Liaison’s office in the library basement at the time of the earthquake and didn’t feel anything either.
“My boss was claiming she felt an earthquake, and all of my coworkers and I thought she was crazy,” she said. “But she turned out to be right.”
Next door, in the University Bookstore storage room, student employee Brendan Kann also didn’t feel anything at first either.
“I didn’t notice it at first until someone shouted,” said Kann. “[A fellow employee] said ‘come over here,’ and I sat down and felt the table. The table actually started moving, the boxes were moving a little bit.”
The storage room now houses hundreds of boxes filled with textbooks ordered online by students who are beginning to return to campus for the Fall semester.
“We were told that people from the top floors started running down,” said Kann, who remained inside with the rest of the bookstore staff.
Maureen Robinson, a staff assistant at the School of Journalism on the fourth floor of the library, was one of the people to evacuate the building.
“We all headed out, it was very calm,” she said. “It was more people reacting as opposed to standing around.”
Stony Brook University’s Office of Emergency Management activated the Emergency Operations Center shortly after the first tremor to assess the integrity of campus infrastructure and buildings. No serious damage had been reported, according to Chief of University Police Bob Lenahan.
As a precaution, the EOC activated SBAlert, the university-wide emergency alert system. According to Lenahan, 42,699 emails were sent shortly after 2:00pm to all currently enrolled students, faculty, staff and affiliates informing them about the earthquake and how to respond.
“We got a lot of calls about buildings shaking,” said Lenahan. No injuries had been reported as of 4:30pm.
While the earthquake seems to have shaken up more conversations on campus than actual buildings, the Office of Emergency Management is preparing for another potentially damaging act of nature: Hurricane Irene, which may impact Long Island over the weekend.