An earthquake is a shaking of the ground that can cause damage to buildings and infrastructure. Following an earthquake, fire is a significant risk due to gas leaks and water pressure failures.

Earthquake strength is described by the Richter Scale, which measures amplitude on a logarithmic basis - meaning that each whole number correlates to a 10-fold increase in earthquake amplitude, or a 30-fold increase in total energy released. Earthquakes below 5 on the Richter scale may be felt but rarely cause damage; earthquakes of 9 and up cause complete regional devastation.

NYS has not seen a damaging earthquake since 2002. Most of the earthquakes in New York have taken place in the greater New York City area, in the Adirondack Mountains region, and in the western part of the state. Wayne County is fortunate to be located in a very stable geologic portion of the state.

Key Terms

  • An Aftershock is an earthquake of similar or lesser intensity that follows the main earthquake.
  • The Epicenter is the place on the earth's surface directly above the point on the fault where the earthquake rupture began.
  • A Fault is the fracture along which the earth's crust is displaced during an earthquake.
  • Magnitude is the amount of energy released during an earthquake.

What to Do

  • Before (Preparedness / Mitigation)

    • Sign up online for Wayne County Alerts and have a battery or crank-powered NOAA weather radio available.
    • Locate safe spots in each room under a sturdy table or against an inside wall.
    • Hold earthquake drills with your family members.
    • Understand how your home or structure will react, and consider hardening if there are areas of concern.
    • Refer to "Power Outage/ Blackout" and "Medical Emergency" hazard pages.
  • During (Response)

    • Drop, cover, and hold on. Drop to your hands and knees, if you can, protecting your head and neck.
    • Stay away from windows if you are indoors.
    • Stay indoors until the shaking stops or if you are sure it is safe.
    • If you are outside, find a clear spot away from tall buildings and drop to the ground until the shaking stops.
    • If you are in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location and stop.
    • Listen to official information.
  • After (Recovery)

    • Expect aftershocks (smaller earthquakes) for hours or days after the initial quake.
    • Avoid damaged areas.
    • Check your utilities (especially gas), and evacuate, and call 911 if you smell gas.
    • Look for cracks in your foundation or drywall, as this may be a sign of structural damage. If you find damage, have the structure inspected before reoccupying it.
    • Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.