Minutes after the tremors from the East Coast earthquake shook the Big Apple, swarms of New Yorkers poured out from Manhattan office buildings, looking up, down and around to figure out what caused whatever it was they just felt.
They crowded city sidewalks, many frantically calling their loved ones to make sure they were OK, while others scoured social media sites to see if anyone could offer an explanation of what was going on.
“Terrorists,” Doris Vignapiano, of Bay Ridge, said she thought first. Then, as she made her way down 55 flights, she heard an announcement over her office building’s loudspeaker that mentioned an incident near Washington. She thought her fears were about to be confirmed.
“We’re not that far from [the anniversary] of 9/11,” she added, standing outside of 1 Penn Plaza nearly 20 minutes after the shaking ended and unsure if she’d return to work, admitting she was still jittery. “We just thought it was going to go ‘boom,’“ she said of her office building.
Sanela Selmanovic, who works as a sales coordinator in the same office, said she felt slightly “panicked” when the shaking started and she was unable to make any outgoing calls from her cell phone.
“It felt like a basketball, dribbling up and down,” Selmanovic, 23, of Woodside, said of the high rise’s up-and-downward movement. “We felt it like six times… All we were thinking about was, ‘we need to get out.’”
Kellie Wright, 21, a saleswoman who lives in Yonkers, said she didn’t know anything was array until her mother called her on her cell phone and asked her to come home.
“She was paranoid I wouldn’t be able to get home,” Wright said, adding that her mother had been in the city during the 9/11 terrorist attack. The call was a reminder, she said, of how much her mother continues to love, care and worry about her “even though I’m 21.”
While many New Yorkers said they were worried about returning inside tall office buildings, not everyone was scared away by the tremors.
“The people lining up to get Medicaid line stayed in line,” said a Medicare caseworker outside the W 34th St. office. “They did not budge!”
(With Sheila Anne Feeney)