Earthquake interrupts President Obama's golf game
President Obama was golfing Tuesday as an earthquake rolled across the Eastern Seaboard. Though immediate reports of damage and injuries were minimal, Obama held a conference call with top homeland security and federal emergency management officials an hour after the quake occurred at 1:51 p.m. EDT.
Tremors from the 5.8-magnitude quake centered in Virginia were felt on some parts of Martha’s Vineyard on Tuesday, including in Oak Bluffs, where the small group of reporters traveling with the president's motorcade were waiting for him to finish his game near the Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs.
The White House did not immediately release any information about whether the president felt the quake or if he cut the golf game short after the quake struck.
At the time, Obama was golfing with his Chicago friend Eric Whitaker and White House trip director Marvin Nicholson -– who are part of his usual foursome -– as well as lawyer Vernon Jordan, a close confidante of President Bill Clinton who has a vacation home on the island.
During the 2:50 p.m. conference call, top advisers told the president there were no initial reports of major infrastructure damage. Administration officials are monitoring airports and nuclear facilities, but White House officials said they had not received any requests for assistance.
Joining the president on the call was Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Crag Fugate, as well as the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a science adviser who monitors earthquakes and geological hazards.
The White House did not provide any information about where Obama held the conference call, but the president's entourage had not left the golf course at 5:25 p.m. Tuesday.
White House officials said the president has asked for regular updates on the earthquake and Hurricane Irene.
Obama also was briefed Tuesday morning on developments in global and U.S. financial markets, as well as Libya. He spoke to French President Nicolas Sarkozy about the fighting that continues in Tripoli, aides said.
-- Maeve Reston in Edgartown, Mass.
Photo: President Obama reacts while watching the flight of his ball after hitting it out of a trap on Martha's Vineyard on Tuesday. Despite the quake, his entourage had not left the golf course by late afternoon. Credit: AP / Steven Senne