Blind man, others recall frightening earthquake experience
Ian Stewart

A number of Jamaicans expressed gratitude on Friday that no catastrophe occurred during an earthquake felt islandwide last Thursday night, which some admitting they were caught flat-footed and sent into panic mode.

According to the Earthquake Unit at The University of the West Indies, Mona, the 4.9-magnitude quake shook around 7:31 pm. The epicentre was located approximately five kilometres west of Hope Bay in Portland and had a local depth of 15.3 km. The quake was reportedly felt in Kingston and St Andrew, Clarendon, St Catherine, St Thomas, and Portland, according to the Earthquake Unit.

St James, St Elizabeth and Manchester residents also reported feeling the earthquake.

The Jamaica Observer learned that several Jamaicans were so frightened by the experience that many unintentionally ignored all the lessons they were taught about running under a door jam, under a table or desk or in an open space outdoors if there is an earthquake.

Residents of Kingston and St Andrew recalled their experience for the Observer and although some responses were laced with humour, it indicated that many of them were slow to react and move to safety during an earthquake:

Ian Stewart, who is visually impaired, said he thought he felt that the earth would suck him in. "It was frightening for me. I was at the bus stop in Cross Roads, right under the clock. I felt the earth jerk and then the iron at the bus shed started jerking too. When I felt it I thought the earth would open up. I hear them say the earth can open and shut back during an earthquake. These things are surprising and cannot be taken lightly," said Stewart.

Silly: "A lady and I sat in my car and because she knows that my wife died, she said, 'hear your wife coming to jerk the car deh'. I got upset and wondered why she would say that. I felt the car shaking hard. Then I heard a man ask if we felt the earthquake. I had to check my house for cracks but I didn't see one crack on it."


Oshene: "My baby [young child] and I heard a banging on the door. My baby's reaction was to ask, 'Mommy, is that daddy?' I was definitely frightened."


Kesha Christie: "I was at a traffic light in my Mercedes Benz when the earth shook. When I felt the earthquake I thought somebody ran into the back of my van. The van was literally rocking. When I came out and looked, it was nobody there. At the end I said it must have been an earthquake. My vehicle is heavy and to feel it rock like that, I know it was a big one."

Kesha Christie

'Bigs': "It was very alarming. I was securing a place up by Waterloo [St Andrew]. I froze and held my composure. If it was worse, I would have to run to the door jam."

Bigs (Photos: Llewellyn Wynter)

David: "I was in the kitchen cooking. My wife asked me if I didn't feel the earthquake. I heard a sound but I didn't feel anything."


Paul: "I was walking home and I felt the shake and thought something was going to happen."

Abdul: "I was at home in bed when I heard rumbling. I got up and said I would go through the door. This earthquake thing is kind of scary and I didn't really want to get trapped in the house. I heard my parrots making a lot of noise. If it lasted any longer, I don't know what would have happened."


Marcia: "I was packing up goods when I felt it. It came and passed so fast. It was shocking."


Jennile Nevers: "I was sleeping when it happened and it woke me up. I was frightened but I was wondering if I was dreaming. I had to go to social media to confirm it was actually an earthquake.


Mahalia: "I was in Portmore but I didn't feel it. My mom texted me and told me that she was sleeping and it woke her and my sister out of their sleep but I didn't feel it myself. If it was worse, I think my chances of survival would have been pretty good because I wasn't anywhere where I think I would be impacted at all."


Donald: "I was very surprised, but I went to the door jam. The people in my community were heard shouting, 'earthquake, earthquake' and a mek up noise."


Jody-Ann: "I was a bit surprised. It was the first I was feeling such a powerful earthquake. I was in the supermarket when it happened and I wanted to run out, but I was caught flat-footed. I know that normally when there is an earthquake you should go to a door jam or go out in an open area."


'Quake': "As I stepped into my house and put down my goods, the earth shook. I heard the people on Skyline Drive in Jacks Hill shouting, 'Earthquake'. A judgement time. When you see men not even trying to hide their deeds and everything is in the open, it serious."


Sharon: "My brother was in the kitchen and I was in the walkway and the place just started to shake. My belly felt a way. My nephew ran out and said 'a earthquake dat enuh Aunty Sharon'."


Roy: "I was sleeping."


Artist: "I was painting in my room and I threw down the brush and ran."


God Life: "It was the first from I was born that I experienced it. I always hear people talk about it. I was sitting under a tree and mi feel the seat start shake up. I thought it was a motor vehicle shaking up the place. All water a drop outa di tree. This was a warning father God gave to Jamaica and anyhow we nuh take heed, the place ago wreck up just like Haiti wreck up."


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