NYC’s Nepali Community Recalls 2015 Nepal Earthquake as Tremors Rock New York City

A powerful earthquake rattled New York City and the surrounding region on Friday morning, sending shockwaves through the metropolis and leaving residents shaken. The 4.8 magnitude temblor, centered near Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, was the strongest to hit the area since 1884, according to the US Geological Survey.

The unexpected shaking sent a jolt through the city’s core, swaying skyscrapers in midtown Manhattan and prompting terrified New Yorkers to flee buildings. Memories of the devastating 2015 Nepal earthquake, which struck at a magnitude of 7.8 and claimed nearly 9,000 lives, surfaced for the city’s Nepali community, adding an extra layer of fear to the experience.

Deepak Pariyar, an editor at Khasokhas living on the 17th floor in Queens, New York, echoed this sentiment. “I was in the bathroom,” he said. “Suddenly, I thought I was having dizziness, and I sat holding my head. At once, I knew it was an earthquake. As Nepal suffered a terrible earthquake in 2015, this earthquake made me remember that disaster.”

Binita Tamang, another resident of Queens with roots in Nepal, described the panic that gripped her. “As soon as I realized the earthquake was happening, I ran out of the house,” she said. “Because the house is old, I was very worried it would be damaged. I slipped and almost fell while running outside. Having faced the earthquake in Nepal, I was very scared when such a big earthquake happened here in New York.”

Nepali New Yorker Aadit Siwakoti commented, “The tremors definitely reminded me of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.”

As soon as the earthquake hit, Nepalis in New York started calling each other to check on their well-being and share the latest news. The earthquake also prompted a wave of calls and texts between Nepalis in New York and their relatives and friends back in Nepal, as well as Nepali communities in other states, all eager for updates on the situation.

While initial reports indicated no significant structural damage, the tremors were felt as far north as Connecticut and south into Long Island. Buildings across New Jersey and Long Island experienced noticeable shaking.

The response from New York City officials, however, came under fire for its slowness. Despite the widespread tremors, the city’s emergency alert system only sent out a message advising residents to stay indoors and call 911 if injured nearly 40 minutes after the initial earthquake struck. This delay in crucial information caused frustration and raised concerns about the city’s preparedness for such emergencies.

An aftershock measuring a smaller 2.0 on the Richter scale struck about an hour later, centered near Bedminster, New Jersey. This aftershock was less widely felt, but the city’s response remained sluggish, with an alert arriving almost 25 minutes after the aftershock itself.

The earthquake serves as a stark reminder of the seismic vulnerability of the Northeast, a region often viewed as immune to major earthquakes. The US Geological Survey cautioned that additional aftershocks were a possibility, urging residents to stay informed and prepared.