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Earthquake's Ripple Effect: Friends and Family Connect Using Social Media

News about a son in Richmond travels from VA to France to New Canaan.

New Canaan resident PJ Reinemann, who returned to University of Richmond in VA on Sunday, said he was in a friend’s room when the .

“I was at the top of my friend's dorm on the fourth floor and I started feeling this rumbling,” he told Patch. “I really didn’t know what was going to happen. I really expected the building to fall over. You could feel it pretty strong. Maybe I’m exaggerating because I had never been in an earthquake before. I was really freaking out."

Reinemann said the school has an emergency system, but the phones went down immediately after the quake. He said he got a message from the school about 10 minutes later. By then, he and fellow students had left the building. He said some students were running through the cafeteria screaming, and some were saying the campus was being evacuated. 

“They cancelled classes for an hour or so, and told us to expect aftershocks within the next two hours,” he said. 

Reinemann, 20, said he didn’t see any damage on the campus, which is about 20 miles from the epicenter of the 5.8 magnitude earthquake.

Meanwhile, Reinemann’s father, Peter, said he got word that his son was okay via text message.

“Our son Eric is in France. I don’t know how he found out, but he did and he called PJ in Richmond,” Reinemann told Patch. “I found out from a text from Eric in France that he’d spoken to PJ and he’s fine. I spoke to him a little after 3 and he was just stepping in to class."

Molly Shaker (daughter of New Canaan Patch editor, Sheryl Shaker) said she felt tremors as she sat outdoors at her parents’ New Canaan home.

“I felt a very faint shaking,” she wrote in a text message.

Shaker said she received messages from colleagues in New York and Washington, and from friends as far away as Burlington, VT.

“My Blackberry was totally flooded with emails from people in NY and DC saying they felt it,” she texted. “Framed pictures at my friend’s apartment in Queens fell off the wall. Hubbell felt it sitting outside on Church Street in Burlington.”

Nick Hubbell tweeted the news from Vermont, “I was sitting @handyslunch and thought someone was kicking my seat. So weird!”

PJ Reinemann said he checked in with Facebook right after the quake.

“I didn’t post anything but I looked on everybody else’s and it was all “Earthquake, Earthquake,” he said. “But it took a good 25 minutes for anything to show up on the news. We were all like, ‘Did anybody else notice?’”

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