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Nine families in New Bedford were displaced by an earthquake that shook southern New England Sunday morning and left three buildings in the city uninhabitable, according to the Red Cross of Massachusetts.

The magnitude 3.6 quake struck at 9:10 a.m. in Buzzards Bay about 7 miles south of Dartmouth and could be felt as far away as Long Island, said Paul Caruso, a geophysicist at the US Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center in Boulder, Colo.

In New Bedford, a total of 22 people were left homeless by the earthquake and are staying in hotels, said Jeff Hall, a Red Cross spokesman.

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No injuries were reported.

The quake damaged the natural gas line to one building and left the others with structural damage, Hall said. New Bedford city inspectors are expected to determine whether the buildings can be saved.

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, in a series of Twitter posts Sunday, asked residents to check their chimneys for damage, particularly in basements, and contact the fire department if they find a problem. Chimneys in at least two houses appeared to have been cracked by the earthquake.

Anyone who smells gas should evacuate and then call 911, he said. Damage to chimneys could interfere with a boiler or burner, and lead to a gas or carbon monoxide leak.

“It’s going to get cold sooner or later, and people will start [turning] on their heating systems,” Mitchell said in a video. “We want to make sure they are working, and not damaged.”

In Dartmouth, which lies near the epicenter, police Detective Kyle Costa said no damage had been reported. Representatives for National Grid and Eversource reported no service interruptions or damage from the quake.

Christopher Besse, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, said officials had been monitoring the situation following the quake and were "in contact with local emergency management directors to coordinate state assistance if necessary,” he said.

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Beyond New Bedford, there were few signs of major damage.

In Cotuit, Kevin Nichols said he could feel his home shake during the earthquake.

“It was not a pleasant experience,” he said.

US Representative William Keating, in an interview with WCVB-TV, described what he experienced during the earthquake.

“All of a sudden, the house shook,” Keating said. “The only way I could describe it was, it was just like, you know, an explosion without the sound.”

Dr. John E. Ebel, a Boston College professor of geophysics and a senior research scientist at Weston Observatory, said earthquakes similar to Sunday’s happen about once a year in New England.

Ebel said there is a better than 50 percent chance that people living on the South Shore will experience an aftershock from Sunday’s quake.

There is also a small possibility, he said, that a more powerful earthquake may occur at some point, though the chances of that happening are probably no more than 5 percent.

But more damaging quakes have occurred in the area.

In 1755, a roughly magnitude 6 earthquake struck off Cape Ann. Roads were blocked by piles of brick from fallen chimneys, he said, and the tower at Faneuil Hall had to be repaired.

Ebel said people living in the region should be aware of the potential impact of earthquake and noted that building codes here have incorporated standards to help structures resist seismic forces.

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“There is a chance for a damaging earthquake centered in the region,” Ebel said. It’s impossible to predict when one will occur, but “there is every reason to believe there will be one in the future.”

On Sunday, there was a sense of disbelief as people took to social media to make sure that, yes, they just experienced an earthquake in New England.

David Goldstein, 62, of South Dennis, said he’s never experienced anything like the quake, which he said shook his house. He described it as sounding like a very loud truck rumbling past his home.

He and his wife realized what had occurred when they read a Boston Globe report online, he said in a phone interview. He said he thought about reversing a recent decision on his insurance.

“The first thing I thought of was to reinstate the earthquake insurance I just canceled,” Goldstein said, who joked that his decision led to the quake.

“This is probably why we had one. You didn’t know I had such power,” he said.

Nichols, 47, said he was reading the New Yorker when his home shook Sunday morning. The sound, he said, was like that of a sonic boom and lasted for several seconds.

His first impression was that his partner was running the washing machine — but immediately reconsidered. “I quickly realized that wasn’t possible, because the whole house was shaking,” Nichols said.

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He said he has friends in California who were supportive but also some who took the opportunity to have a little fun. Some told him: “Get used to this,” or “Welcome to the club,” he said.

Nichols, for his part, said he’d rather not: “We don’t want this in New England."

Globe correspondent Andrew Stanton contributed to this report.


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.