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NYC, New Jersey witnesses of earthquake share first-hand accounts: "Everyone was freaking out"

New Yorkers react to 4.8 magnitude earthquake
New Yorkers react to 4.8 magnitude earthquake 02:54

NEW YORK -- A powerful earthquake shook New York City and the surrounding area Friday morning, alarming residents and causing some buildings to shake

The roughly 4.7 to 4.8 magnitude quake was centered in Readington, New Jersey, which is about 50 miles southwest of New York City and 35 miles north of Trenton. It quickly became the talk of the town and on social media, as people asked questions and shared their stories.

New Jersey residents report feeling shaking, swaying

CBS New York heard from witnesses shortly after near Rutgers University in New Brunswick. One woman said it felt like a dream and she started texting her family to make sure everyone was safe.

"I was laying in my bed, and my whole apartment building just started shaking. And I freaked out, I was like, what's happening? I've never felt an earthquake before in my life, so it was very scary," she said. "My whole bed shook, everything shook."

Others reported similar experiences around campus.

"I was in my house, and the whole house was shaking. All of my roommates were asleep, we all woke up, like what's going on? Immediately got calls from our families all over New Jersey, all over New York. Everybody felt it was pretty out-of-the-ordinary," another woman told Westbrook. "I thought it was wind, it's been really windy around here, and my windows are very thin."

"I was standing in my kitchen in my apartment, and I saw the TV shaking. I've never felt an earthquake, so it was a little scary, it was a little weird," said another.

CBS New York also caught up with a group of volunteers at the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in Hillside. They were packing supplies for a food drive when the warehouse started to shake.

"The ground started shaking, but I was thinking... is there a truck, or is there something going on in the warehouse? Then you could see the pipes in the warehouse shaking and swaying back and forth," one man said. "It was kind of unreal."

"I honestly thought it was just a forklift that hit something, because I was on the phone with my partner at work, and he said all of a sudden the building started to shake," another man added. "I looked around and everyone was freaking out."

Quake doesn't shake some New York City residents

People throughout New York City could feel the shake and rumble of the ground Friday morning.

"I ran out of my apartment pretty much immediately," Upper West Side resident Natalie Johnson said. "I actually thought my entire building was falling down."

Some people on West 82nd Street got a case of the jitters when they say the quake expanded existing cracks in their structure. The buildings department came and gave them the all-clear.

"Pretty scary, really, because if you think about how old some of these buildings are and perhaps how unstable they could be, it's a little concerning," Upper West Side resident Tina Chapman said.

Not everyone was all that concerned, however.

"I was home on 57th Street. I thought it was a truck from outside," one man said.

"When did you realize it was an earthquake? When did you know that?" CBS New York's Dave Carlin asked.

"When I got the alert," the man said.

Watch Dave Carlin's report

Earthquake doesn't phase some New York City residents 02:55

"I was just sitting there waiting for the doctor, and I just kind of felt a boom boom, boom, boom," one woman said.

"I thought it was my elevator repair guy, but my roommate felt it," Manhattan resident Ariana Fernando said.

"I was in the chair getting a haircut. All of a sudden I feel the ground shaking. I thought it was a train," Midtown resident Eli Yusupov said. "We had one like 10 years ago a minor one ... This one was much stronger."

"My girlfriend woke me up, she asked me what's happening. I felt the bed shaking, so I was like, it's probably an earthquake, and I went right back to sleep. It's my day off, so I needed to sleep," Midtown resident Rob Atkinson said.

"I just felt everything swaying and that it was very unusual ... I went back to work. I was on the train because then when I looked at my phone, I thought the trains were not gonna be running because I thought, when I saw it was an actual earthquake, oh, the trains are going to be an issue, but it wasn't, and everybody was doing their thing," Hell's Kitchen resident Jason Alexander said.

"Everyone said, 'Did you feel it? Did you feel it? Did you feel it? I felt everything! I felt like the building's gonna come down!' And I was... not a ripple, nothing," Hell's Kitchen resident Carolyn Montgomery said. "You know, there was an earthquake in Queens a few years ago, and I felt that. I was in my kitchen and it was tiny, tiny. And I didn't feel this one."

One business on Broadway proved New Yorkers know how to make a fast buck; before the end of the day, they were selling $10 "I survived the NYC earthquake" t-shirts.

"So do you guys have these in the basement ready to go or something?" CBS New York's Dick Brennan asked store owner Kerry Colley.

"We felt the earthquake. It just came to us. We thought it'd be a funny idea. So we went down, made it, put it in a window and we sold six in 10 minutes," Colley said.

"And how many now, do you know?" Brennan asked.

"Couple hundred, maybe? I really have no idea. It's just been absolute nonstop," Colley said.

The earthquake was also felt in the Philadelphia area and as far north as Rhode Island and Boston

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