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WNY feels effects of earthquake

For the second time in 14 months, Western New Yorkers found themselves turning to co-workers and family members Tuesday and asking, "Did you feel that?"

The Buffalo Niagara region felt the ripple effects of a 5.8-magnitude earthquake centered near Richmond, Va., that shook much of the East Coast.

"This area really doesn't have a lot of earthquakes. Between two now, this is a weird thing," said Lynne Siegmann, a medical receptionist for UB/MD Internal Medicine.

This earthquake reminded many area residents of the June 23, 2010, 5.0-magnitude quake that originated near Ottawa and was felt here.

The two quakes are a departure for an area where nature's fury usually takes the form of snow and arctic chill.

"Mother Nature could take us down at any time," said Mike Ferro, owner of Gino and Joe's Pizza on Main Street. "Hopefully, we're always this lucky, you know what I mean?"

The quake's effects could be felt as far north as New England, as far south as the Carolinas and as far west as Ohio. By the time the tremors reached Western New York, they caused shaking but no damage.

"For five or 10 seconds, I felt the building shaking and swaying. I actually felt like I was in danger, that the building was going to collapse and I was going to wind up on the first floor," said Janet Curry, administrative assistant to Senior U.S. District Judge John T. Curtin, who was working in the judge's sixth-floor office in the Federal Court Building downtown.

People working in some of the area's taller buildings felt more of the quake's effects.

Mary C. St. Mary, a trade commissioner with the Canadian Consulate General, said she initially thought a gust of wind had hit the HSBC Tower, where she works on the 30th floor. "Looks like it probably scared the heck out of people down in Washington, D.C., but they're jumpy anyway," she said.

Earthquakes happen all the time, even along inactive fault lines like the one where Tuesday's quake originated, said Gary S. Solar, chairman of Buffalo State College's Earth Sciences and Science Education Department, who studies tectonics.

"They're just not as big as this one in this part of the world," he said.

The quake delivered a little jolt to Taylor Devices' stock price. The North Tonawanda-based company makes shock absorbers that help structures withstand seismic activity.

Within minutes of the quake, its share price went from $5.25 to $5.80. It peaked at $6.03 before closing at $5.95.

"That's an awful fast response," CEO Douglas P. Taylor said.

One former area resident laughed at news of the quake.

Sandra Petrone hasn't felt a tremor since moving to earthquake-prone Northern California in June 2009.

"The last two years: Buffalo, 2; San Francisco, 0," said the Cheektowaga native.

News Staff Reporters Denise Jewell Gee, Matt Glynn, Dan Herbeck, Lou Michel and Scott Scanlon and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

email: swatson@buffnews.com