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UB campus shakes from Earthquake aftershock

By Althea Benloss
On August 24, 2011

Buildings shook, indoor items rattled, the ground quivered and for those who felt it may have been taken off guard and even confused by the rare event on the East Coast. On Tuesday, August 24 a 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook the state of Virginia and left New York City, Washington, D.C., other surrounding states and even places like Chicago and Ohio feeling the aftershock. With a majority of University of Bridgeport students moving to their specified Res. Hall soon and classes beginning in just a few days, it is a wonder what occurred on UB soil during that moment, while students were away.

Dr. Thomas Ward, Dean of the International College, was on the fifth floor of Wahlstrom Library, for an opening meeting for the faculty of the International College, when they suddenly felt the tremors.

"The Library itself was literally shaken," Ward stated in an e-mail. "More than half of us had experienced earthquakes before and it was clear what had happened. Within two or three minutes, we learned online that the earthquake's epicenter had been in Virginia."

The Scribe Design & Layout Editor and recent UB graduate Camille Jones felt the full effects of the aftershock, within the very walls of her New Jersey home.

"It was a normal day," Jones said. "I heard my bed shaking, saw my fan shaking, and thought: ‘this is kind of scary;'" It's not anything I've ever experienced before."

Although very alarmed by the event when it occurred, she is, however, not surprised by this rare tremor felt in New York City and other states on the East Coast.

"Stronger Earthquakes in California can be felt out by the Rockies," Jones said. "Even when the tsunami happened in Japan, they were taking precautions in California, because tremors like that can be carried very far."

Assistant Dean of Student Edina Oestreicher was conducting Orientation Leader training for 31 OL's and she stated in an e-mail that none of them felt a thing.

"We were all stunned to learn of the quake about a ½ hour after it occurred and many of us immediately went to call family and friends to ensure that they were safe," she stated.

Orientation for new students didn't begin until today and, therefore, most new students hadn't even arrived when the quake took place. 

"I was phoned by a friend from Chicago asking if I was ok," Dean of Students Kenneth Holmes stated in an e-mail. "That's when I learned of the earthquake."

"It certainly did make our faculty meeting all the more memorable," Ward stated.

Dean Ward also mentioned that he had been in two earthquakes: one in Taiwan and one in Chile.

"I was in Taiwan in September 1999 when the earthquake had a magnitude of 7.6 on the Richter scale. That was very different than what we experienced here," Ward stated. "I woke up in the middle of the night to find my bed sliding and slamming into one wall of my hotel and then slamming into the wall on the other side of the room. We were lucky that it was so mild here."

There were no known evacuations that took place on campus. 

"Most of my staff were surprised that an earthquake had even occurred because I don't think many of us think of this phenomenon as something that frequently occurs on the East coast," Oestreicher stated. "We were relieved to learn that it only caused minor damage and no serious injuries."

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