NYC Hit, Not Harmed by Magnitude 4.8 Earthquake

The recent earthquake was one of the biggest recorded./Rev

By Shlomie Katash


   At approximately 10:23 A.M. on April 5, a magnitude 4.8 earthquake emerging in New Jersey rocked the northeast corridor from Boston to Philadelphia, which included all five boroughs of New York City. 

   In a seismological sense, NYC is no stranger to earthquakes. According to The New York Times, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) has logged 188 magnitude 2.5 or greater earthquakes within a 250-mile radius of NYC since 1957, with only seven being greater than a magnitude of 4.5. Friday’s earthquake is the third strongest in that record, though it occurred only forty miles west of NYC. Compared to other earthquakes, it was the strongest since the estimated 5.0 magnitude earthquake that centered in Brooklyn in 1884, according to THE CITY. The most recent earthquake prior to April 5 was one centered in Queens on Jan. 2, measured to be of magnitude 1.7, per The New York Times.

   Both Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams scheduled press conferences soon after the earthquake to discuss its aftermath. Neither said that there have been any reports of serious damage or injuries, but both affirmed that inspections would continue to assess the impacts, according to The New York Times. City and state officials, including those representing the public education system, infrastructure and subway maintenance, and the New York Police Department, echoed their statements.

   “Fortunately, here in the state of New York, we are masters of disasters. We know how to handle this,” Hochul said in a press conference on April 5. “We’re always ready. We have planning in place for all our teams to activate instantaneously, and I feel very comfortable about that. But again, these are emerging situations. It could be over, but also there could be another effect, and we have to prepare for that.”

   Aftershocks remain a possibility. As of April 7, USGS has reported 32 aftershocks, including one of a 3.8 magnitude that struck at 5:59 p.m. on Friday around New Jersey and NYC. The USGS calculated that there is an 8% chance that an aftershock above a magnitude of 4.0 could occur within the next week, a 16% chance within the next month, and a 37% chance within the next year.

   Concerns have been raised about the city’s response to this earthquake and capability to respond to future ones. Residents of NYC were not notified of the earthquake until 26 minutes after it happened via the “Notify NYC” service. Those who were not previously signed up for it were only informed nearly forty minutes later by a Wireless Emergency Alert. Adams has previously been criticized for failing to give adequate warnings about hazards, particularly in regards to flooding and wildfire smoke emergencies last year, according to The New York Times.

   “We’re not here to break news that there was an earthquake that happened. Everybody felt it, everybody knew,” NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Zachary Iscol said to Fox 5 NY. “Our job is to make sure people are safe, and people have the information they need to help us keep people safe.”

   Considerations regarding building safety in the event of a major earthquake were first put in place by regulations in the early 2000s, according to The New York Times. According to a 2019 report by the NYC Emergency Management Department, since the majority of NYC’s one million buildings having been built prior to the the turn of the century, an earthquake with the severity of the one in 1884 could cause $4.7 billion in property damage, force over two thousand people into shelters, and cause significant personal injuries and mortalities.

   “Because earthquakes occur unexpectedly, New Yorkers will not have advanced warning that one will strike, so promoting awareness and preparedness among local communities is essential,” the report concluded.

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