Were You Shaken? Earthquake Felt in Westhampton Beach

An earthquake from New Jersey was felt in Westhampton Beach, Photo: iStock
iStock

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a 3.1 earthquake rattled the New York metropolitan area at 2:01 a.m. on Thursday, September 10. The epicenter, it said, was a mile south of Freehold, New Jersey, but reports of it came from as far away as Poughkeepsie and Hartford, Connecticut, and did include Long Island.

The USGS gives out lots of information to the press when they have an earthquake, and this one was no exception. Among the information was a map of the northeast showing light colored squares where one or two people reported it, and darker colored squares where three or more people reported it. Here in the Hamptons, there was only one place that had a square, and that was Westhampton Beach. But it was a dark square, so apparently a good number of people felt it there.

As a result of seeing this map, I called every single person in Westhampton Beach in order to find out who those people were. (I have a robocall system I use for other purposes, but don’t tell anybody.) Dan’s Papers always gets the scoop. There were three people.

George Meritokis, who lives on Library Lane, told me that at 1:30 a.m. they announced last call at the Jack and Turtle on Main Street, so he took a final slug of scotch, slammed the glass down on the counter and walked the two blocks to his home, where he thought his wife would be asleep. He fumbled with his key trying to find the keyhole of his front door when it happened.

“The whole house shook,” he said. “And the bushes by the front door swayed. I called to Gladys upstairs, hoping she was all right, and it woke her up. But she hadn’t felt it. ‘Earthquake?’ she said. ‘What the hell!’ And then I found the keyhole. But I knew what I felt, steadied myself and called it in.”

The second person who felt the earthquake was Bruce Crafton III, who owns a house on the mainland side of Moneybogue Bay opposite Dune Road. It’s a narrow channel there. And when he can’t sleep, which is often, he gets up, changes from his pajamas into his bathing suit, puts on his rubber waders and, with a basket, innertube and rake, walks down his lawn, wades into the water and goes clamming.

“It calms me down,” he said. “Usually, I get enough so we can have fresh chopped clams in an omelet for breakfast. Anyway, I was out there under the moon, raking the bottom for less than 20 minutes tops, when all of a sudden—it was a full moon—I felt this jittery thing going on. The surface of the water, which is always slick and shiny at that hour, suddenly began to ruffle and shiver. It was like Jell-O out there. Lasted several minutes. I splashed out of the water as fast as I could. I knew from the minute I saw it what it was. I ran back up the lawn to the house and went inside, dripping wet and out of breath, and got my phone. Something like that, you gotta call it in.”

The third person who called it in was Miriam Wake, a resident living on Seafield Lane in Westhampton Beach.

“Me and my hubby,” she told me, “were in bed making a little love, if you know what I mean, when suddenly, right at a certain moment, you know, the bed shook and two of the pictures fell right off the walls. ‘It’s an earthquake,’ I told Sheldon, and all he says was ‘What? What?’ But I know an earthquake when I feel one. So I called it in. He did call me crazy, and he’s always trying to tell me what to do, but then that’s why I love him.”

By the way, one mile south of Freehold, New Jersey, more or less, is Mel’s Service Station and Convenience Store on Route 9. I looked it up on Google Earth.

I wanted to ask them to comment about the earthquake but they never answered, and after a while, a message said their phone was disconnected.

If I get more information about this, I’ll post it on our website.

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