Westchester County Courthouse back to business after quake

Today’s afternoon earthquake prompted a brief evacuation of the Westchester County Courthouse, (left) where
lawyers, judges, probation officers, court officers and others made a hasty exit and were told to step away from the 19-story court building while they waited for permission to re-enter.

“It felt like the building was swaying,” said Tracy Everson, spokeswoman for the county District Attorney’s office, which is on the fifth floor of the courthouse at 111 Martin Luther  King Jr. Blvd. “There was some rattling of file cabinets, then the fire alarm went off. Everybody got out — and fast. It was scary.”

The county courthouse was among hundreds of government buildings on the East Coast to be evacuated during the 5.9 magnitude earthquake. The 26-story federal courthouse in lower Manhattan began swaying and hundreds of people were seen leaving the building.

The tremors, which originated in Virginia, shook much of Washington, D.C., and was felt as far north as Rhode Island, New York City and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., where President Barack Obama is vacationing.

The earthquake had no effect on New York City subways, Metro-North Railroad or other systems operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, agency spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said. But Amtrak passengers should expect delays due to trains running at reduced speeds between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, part of its Northeast Corridor, which extends through New York City to Boston.

Liberty, JFK and LaGuardia International Airports were all shut down briefly as control towers were evacuated, delaying flights.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.