Gov. Kathy Hochul updates New Yorkers on the state's response...

Gov. Kathy Hochul updates New Yorkers on the state's response to the earthquake that hit the state on Friday morning. Credit: TNS/Mike Groll

This story was reported by David Olson, Lisa Irizarry, Joe Werkmeister, Joseph Ostapiuk, Tara Smith, Ted Phillips, Carl MacGowan and Deborah S. Morris. It was written by Craig Schneider.

For a rumbling, rattling instant, Long Islanders felt the world shaking around them Friday morning, creating a frozen moment of communal anxiety. Then, the shifting of the earth ceased, leaving a stunned quiet as people scrambled to assess damages, check on loved ones and settle their shaken nerves.

Phone lines lit up, people sent each other panicked texts, and news shows pivoted to report on what officials said was a 4.8 magnitude earthquake centered in central New Jersey, but felt across much of the East Coast.

Why are my legs vibrating?

Is that roadwork?

Why is the reflection in the mirror shaking?

Gov. Kathy Hochul said officials did not find any life-threatening situations, but that law enforcement and emergency management workers were on guard. Crews  checked potentially vulnerable pieces of infrastructure as well, she said before at least one of Friday's aftershocks. 

The rippling impacts touched so many — from the Oyster Bay man who thought a car might have hit his house to the East Norwich resident who feared the Philadelphia hotel he was staying in was collapsing. 

Patricia Cano said she was in the kitchen of her Glen Cove home taking out things she needed to bake "when all of a sudden everything started shaking.” The 72-year-old retired secretary looked at her husband, Anthony, and both realized that, whatever was happening, was not stopping.

"We didn’t know what to think," she said.

In the past, the couple has heard medevacs flying over their house on the way to Glen Cove Hospital. They thought maybe the noisy vibrations were that, or some police or news chopper overhead, they said.

Then, almost in unison, both said, "Earthquake.”

Bing! Bing! Bing! — the couple started receiving texts from loved ones in Carle Place, Mineola and Westbury, with everyone talking about their experience. The Glen Cove neighbors Facebook page lit up as well, they said.

Brian Gaffney, of East Norwich, said he was on the third floor of a hotel in Philadelphia, and felt “the whole room” shake.

“It felt like the hotel was collapsing for a second, and then just disappeared,” Gaffney said.

Far from normal

Long Islanders reported strange moments that, for many in that first instant, seemed so far from normal.

Robin Greenidge, 61, was working from home in Flanders when he heard a “little rumble, rattle.” He looked behind and saw the mirror vibrating. He realized the house was shaking.

“It freaked me out,” he said.

Greenidge jumped up and scurried around the house trying to figure out what was happening, he said.

Philip Bonanza Jr. was in the bathroom of his Locust Valley home when he looked down and saw the water in the toilet vibrating. “I didn't know if a car hit the house,” he said.

An event like an earthquake can cause profound anxiety, experts said.

Jennifer Colbert, a licensed clinical social worker and associate executive director for clinic services for South Shore and Epic, said someone she talked to initially believed the tremors could have been from a bomb.

“Given what’s going on in the world, with wars and all of the tension, it could be shocking to people, it could be scary,” she said.

Those who had experienced an earthquake before said they knew exactly what was happening. After all, it's a feeling you don't forget, said Chris DiGirolamo, 52, of Mattituck.

He was in San Francisco in 1989 when a 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck. The quake caused 63 deaths, 3,757 injuries and an estimated $6 billion in property damage, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

He was on a Zoom call Friday and knew “in a second” when he felt his house shake.

“I said, ‘We are having an earthquake,’ ” he announced on the call, and another person in Toronto said he could see the shaking through the video.

Steve Tomasheski said he was at his desk at Triumph Electrical Supply in Mineola talking with a business partner when they felt the one-story brick building shake. 

The two "froze in place" until the vibrations stopped, then checked on employees and materials in the warehouse. All was OK, he said.

They checked X, formerly known as Twitter, and "there were a million tweets about what had happened."

A shake for about 10 seconds

Upper Brookville Mayor Elliot Conway said he was on the phone with Village Hall when his house  shook for about 10 seconds. The clerk he was on the phone with said the building 2 miles away was shaking too.

After the rumbling came the buzz of Long Islanders talking about it all.

Michael Gonias, owner of Hauppauge Palace Diner, said talk of the earthquake was constant. He was in the main dining area when the earthquake struck. The place was full of customers. Everyone looked around. People started checking their phones for news, he said.

"We were looking outside to see what was going on, like maybe they were doing roadwork or something," Gonias said. Then, everyone returned to life as normal, he said.

At the Star Confectionery in downtown Riverhead, owner Anthony Meras was standing over a sizzling griddle when the globed chandeliers in the 100-year-old diner began to sway and his waitstaff started clamoring.

Server Brenda Lasorsa, 60, of Center Moriches, said she felt her legs start to shake.

“I could feel it through my feet. … I thought maybe somebody hit the building. I felt like I was sinking,” she said.

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