New Jersey Earthquake: Philly students, staff describe the moments they felt tremors in school

During the 4.8 earthquake which occurred Friday morning, kids in Philadelphia were sitting in classrooms when things started shaking.

Officer Sierra exclaimed, "It was scary! Everyone was freaking out!"

When the building started shaking at Vare Washington Elementary, nobody had any idea what was happening.

"Everybody’s coming to me," Officer Sierra explained. "I felt it abruptly. I got up. Everybody’s coming to migrate into the hallways. Teachers are calling the front desk. The students are under the desks, but like I said, they came back out. Everybody was safe. We did our research."

4th Grade teacher, Alexandra Longo, described her own reaction in terms of bringing calm to her students, "They just looked at me for my reaction, to see what the next step should be, but they seemed pretty calm, my class."


New Jersey Earthquake: 4.8 magnitude quake rattles from Philadelphia to NYC

A 4.8 magnitude earthquake centered in Hunterdon County, New Jersey on Friday morning shook homes from Philadelphia to New York City and beyond.

"The heater started rumbling, like really rumbling and all our kids started getting scared and then all the teachers were coming out, like, ‘Did you hear the earthquake?’ teacher Sulta Nah Stibbins described. "If you had an earthquake, everyone heard it. Rumbled the whole building!"

Dean of Students, Oluwatobi Odusanua, said, "Oh my God, the kids are so scared, you know, but in times like that, the most important thing to do is to just make a little joke out of it. We’re the adults. We made the earthquake go away, you know, we beat the earthquake up just to make them feel safe."

Jackie Knoell was home when the quake hit, because her son is sick, but had to head to school to pick up his homework. "Scary. It’s very scary. I’m like, ‘Wow!’ I’m shaken up a little bit because I’m a worry wart and if my son was at school, what would he be going through."

"The whole office shook and I was like, ‘Wait, I think I just experienced an earthquake!" Karen Howell-Toomer, Principal with Universal Vare STEM & Arts Charter School, exclaimed.

She says her staff used the quake as a teachable moment for the kids to learn about nature.

"At first everybody was just trying to figure out did we just experience that? We were like, yes, you did.’ And the teachers just reassure them. They were fine."

Debbie Cristella came from Jersey to pick up her granddaughter. "We were in Washington Township and we felt it there. The house shook. My daughter-in-law actually thought it was the washer."