Though Needham is about 500 miles away from where a 5.8-magnitude earthquake was recorded in Virginia this afternoon, several people working in the downtown area felt the effects.
The earthquake hit around 1:51 p.m. in Louisa, Virg., with effects felt throughout New England, according to national reports.
In Needham, locals definitely knew something was going on.
“I was making arrangements at the work table and all of a sudden some of the shelves in the back of the store, which do not move, were moving back and forth, and all the flowers in the store were moving,” said Nancy Wright, owner of at 117 Chapel St. “Nothing fell over, but I could hear things moving on the shelves, metal and glass. It wasn’t violent. It was just subtle.”
Wright called her husband, who was at home in Needham, but he said he hadn’t felt anything.
Nextdoor at , the busy wait staff said they didn’t feel the quake—but their customers did.
“The guests in the restaurant felt vibrations in their chairs. One lady said her booth was moving like a little kid was behind it kicking it, and other people thought it was just a train,” restaurant manager Sara Anderson said.
The Needham Center commuter rail station is located directly behind the restaurant.
“Nobody knew what it was until a guest saw it on Facebook and then we put on the news,” Anderson said.
The tremors were felt around 2:05 p.m., the staff said, which is when one employee sent a text to a friend about it.
Across the street workers were outside doing renovations on the Town Hall building but didn’t notice anything unusual; however, employees at the offices nextdoor to Town Hall did.
“My chair was shaking,” bank manager Kathy Cronis said. “I thought it was from the construction outside. And then I thought to myself, I haven’t shaken at all with all this construction going on the last couple of months. My chair kind of wobbled back and forth and it was steady like that for maybe a minute, maybe less.”
It was only when a teller walked by and asked if she’d felt the earthquake that Cronis realized what had happened.
One street over, on Highland Avenue, neither the employees at Treat Cupcake Bar or GNC said they felt any tremors. Nor did most of the employees at at the corner of Great Plain Avenue and Chestnut Street; although one cashier who was leaning back on the counter said she did feel shaking.
Behind the hardware store at 20 Chestnut Street, several occupants of a two-story building noticed the earthquake.
“I was working at my computer and all of a sudden I felt a little movement,” said Karen Fruci, who works at Malone Company on the second floor of 20 Chestnut St. “I went to the window thinking it might have been something that Harvey’s was doing downstairs. I looked down, but no one was down there. Then I backed away from the window and I saw the building swaying.”
Fruci said she had experienced an earthquake in 1988 while in California.
“But it was so different. It was very subtle,” she said of the local tremors.
She stepped into the hallway along with a woman in a neighboring office, and the two of them went outside with others from the building until they could be sure what was going on.
On the first floor, in the Trust Realty One office, employee Michael Ellis said he felt “seasick,” but at first he thought it was just his co-worker, Keisha Willis, moving in her chair next to him.
“I would have ignored the problem if someone else wasn’t around,” Ellis said.
They called the town to get a building inspector out to look at the building and then went outside to wait, Willis said.
Needham Deputy Fire Chief Donald Anastasi said the had not received any calls of damage or injuries related to the earthquake, but that he knew people in town had felt tremors.
“As far as Needham goes, there have been no problems as of yet,” he said around 3:30 p.m.
Needham residents outside of town also experienced the quake.
One local resident, Alan, is vacationing in New Jersey with his family and was lounging poolside when he “felt like someone was grabbing the back of my chair and pulling … like they were trying to flip over my chair.”
On a nearby beach, Alan’s daughter also felt the tremors, telling her dad she felt “dizzy.”
“She came running up and said she felt like the beach was rocking,” he said.
Did you feel the earthquake? Have you seen any damage around town? Share your story in the comments below or contact Editor Becca Manning at 781-217-4233 or Becca.Manning@Patch.com.