By Catherine Kavanaugh
Daily Tribune Staff Writer
HAZEL PARK — What are the odds of an earthquake in Michigan?
Larry Lavigne, director of wagering at Hazel Park Harness Raceway, isn’t sure, but he said a chance that yesterday’s tremors could do some damage concerned people on the upper levels of the clubhouse.
“The windows were shaking and steel support beams were moving,” Lavigne said. “It happened three times and the last couple were worse than the first. People ran from the windows when they felt the swaying.”
The magnitude-5.0 earthquake that was felt locally struck at the Ontario-Quebec border region of Canada, the U.S. Geological Survey said, and homes and businesses were shaken from Canada’s capital in Ottawa on south to an arc of U.S. states.
Morgan Moschetti, a seismologist with the USGS, said it was not unusual for an earthquake to be felt 300 miles from the epicenter and noted that the latest quake was felt in the U.S. from Chicago to Maine.
Other states that reported feeling tremors were Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York.
The epicenter of the quake was in Quebec, about 23 miles north of Cumberland, Ontario, on the Ottawa River, the USGS said.
The agency said the quake occurred at a depth of about 12 miles at 1:45 p.m. The agency initially said the quake had a 5.5 magnitude, but later reduced it to a magnitude-5.0.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
Hazel Park’s race track didn’t sustain any damage and no one was hurt.
“We just had a few scared patrons, but they kept betting so that’s a good thing,” Lavigne said.
He had a scared colleague, too. Ken Marshall, director of operations, was sitting at his desk on the first floor of the administration building when he felt dizzy.
“I felt a swaying motion and I stopped doing my paperwork to get some bearing,” Marshall, 72, said. “I looked at my cup of Pepsi to see if it was moving and I didn’t see anything perceptible. Then, I put my hands flat on the desk to see if it was swaying or if it was just me. It lasted 30 or 40 seconds and I thought oh no, it’s me.”
Marshall said he almost called for help, but then wondered if the sensation could be a military jet flying over or an earthquake. He checked online news and got his answer.
“I was in my office years ago when there was an earthquake in the Midwest, but that one was stronger, more like one solid bang,” said Marshall, adding that he was relieved he wasn’t having a health problem. “I better find a new office.”
Residents of a number of states in the Midwest and Northeast reported feeling the earthquake.
In Michigan, residents from suburban Detroit to Port Huron and Saginaw reported feeling the earthquake.
Detroit police spokeswoman Yvette Walker told The Associated Press that police personnel on the upper floors of the downtown headquarters building reported feeling the quake.
In Ohio, people reported the sound of plaster cracking in Cleveland and buildings in Cincinnati gently swaying.
In Cleveland, James Haselden says his office in a renovated 19th century brick building swayed and he heard plastic cracking but saw no damage.
The quake also was felt in New Jersey, where the Bergen County administration building in Hackensack was evacuated after employees reported they felt a tremor.
Kellie Tassone, 40, was at home on Oneida Lake in Cicero, N.Y.
“My dog picked his head up just before it happened and kind of looked at me,” she said. Then the sliding door started to rattle “and the house was shaking.”
The USGS said the two largest quakes in western Quebec occurred in 1935 at magnitude 6.1 and in 1732 at a magnitude of 6.2, where it caused significant damage in Montreal.
The agency said earthquakes cause significant damage in the region about once a decade. Smaller earthquakes are felt three or four times a year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Contact Catherine Kavanaugh at email@example.com or (586) 783-0216.