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3.1 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Monmouth County, New Jersey

FREEHOLD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- There was a shocking wake-up call for many in New Jersey way before the dawn Wednesday as an earthquake shook homes and rattled nerves.

"It just shook," Freehold Township resident Renee Brookins told CBS2's Vanessa Murdock.

"My entire house was shaking. I thought someone broke in," added 15-year-old Alexandra Cappello.

"The wife, the dog, myself, jumped out of bed," Freehold's Bob Liamero said.

A 3.1 magnitude earthquake centered near Monmouth County's Freehold Township woke a lot of folks, including Amy Carr. In fact, it was her dogs acting nutty that woke her.

WATCH: CBS2's Elise Finch Explains New Jersey Earthquake 

"I went to wake up my husband and he said, 'Oh, you just a bad dream, go back to sleep,'" Carr said.

Both did just that, but in the morning Ryan Carr decided to check his surveillance video.

"I went back to 2 a.m. and you hear a loud bang," he said.

"I thought it was an explosion. I thought maybe a house blew up," Liamero said.

"I might have thought it was a truck hitting something," added Scott Wolman of Freehold.

There were so many reports of hearing that alarming sound, so Murdock asked John Armbruster, a seismologist with Columbia's Lamont Dougherty Earth Observatory, what it was.

"You're hearing the rocks breaking and moving," Armbruster said.

Thankfully nobody was hurt and no property was damaged.

The quake occurred about three miles into the bedrock beneath the Garden State along a fracture or fault, said Art Lerner-Lam, deputy director at Lamont Dougherty.

"This earthquake was in fact felt quite broadly, all the way down to Camden and up through New York and Westchester County," Lerner-Lam said.

Experts said one of the most surprising things about the earthquake is that is seems so surprising to many.

"Every year or two the New York City area would have something like that," Armbruster said.

A magnitude 4 happens every 20-30 years. The most recent centered in Ardsley, N.Y. in 1985.

A magnitude 5 is the strongest ever felt in the region, and it happens every 100 years or so. The last was in New York City in 1884.

"In a pure mathematical sense, New York is overdue for a magnitude 5 earthquake," Armbruster said.

Which would cause more than just a rude awakening.

"We felt it, too -- 2020, what else is new?" Brookins said.

There are still a few months to go, we shall see.

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