At about 3pm I was in my basement office and my rolling chair seemed to move me around and I thought that I had a funny shuddery feeling. I first touched my head as I felt disoriented. Then I thought the sense of movement was due to a pile driver doing something at an adjacent house, which is being rebuilt, but the machinery was still. Then I saw the truck outside my gate shaking! I noticed that my little Suzuki in the porch garage was also shaking and my legs were really wobbly. I went to the street, where I heard a commotion and I saw that almost everyone was outside and asking "Did you feel the shaking?" Yes, I did! It lasted about a minute as far as I could tell, perhaps a little longer. My little daughter felt nothing: she had just finished her lunch after school an was in the "cartoon zone". Her nanny was on the upstairs landing and was initially concerned that she was having a dizzy spell then got scared by the sense of shaking in her legs. I quickly ran to the radio and I heard the first reports that the southern Caribbean had been hit by a quake of 7.3 on the Richter scale, and that Trinidad and Greneda had also been affected (see link for latest reports, and this link for actual details). You can add your experiences of the quake to the related sites that follow such events. I will post my impressions later.
My wife's driver came by shortly after to deliver her car (after she had travelled yesterday) and he needed to have a ride back. He was going to walk to St. Philip. I was reluctant but took him part way, not wanting to get stuck in an quickly thickening body of cars. On the way we heard that Bridgetown was already in gridlock as cars and passengers tried to flee the city centre and head home (inland and higher).
I got back home within 15 minutes and then spent the rest of the late afternoon with neighbours comparing our stories> Some had been driving and could sense the shuddering as they rolled along. Some were in offices and not sure of what was going on till they noticed bookshelves shaking. Some were sleeping and felt nothing!
This is my first time feeling a quake. I was in Tortola a few months ago when a quake of around 4.3 hit the area during the night, but I slept through it (see previous blog). I had visited Mexico City shortly after a major quake there in the 1980s and the devastation was phenomenal. Here no visible signs of damage are so far evident.
Early reports indicate some damage across the island, including a part of Parliament being damaged. More reports will no doubt emerge, as the radio is full of callers. Phone lines were saturated or down but BlackBerry still could send messages and internet was still working.
Tomorrow is Barbados' 41st anniversary of independence and I suspect that many will not want to venture to the beach, fearing a tsunami. Let's hope that it does not arrive. The PM was due to have an independence reception tonight, but so far no word if it will go ahead. I hear that some of tomorrow's celebrations have been cancelled.
Other blogs are following with more technical details, such as Bajan Underground. Here's hoping for a quiet night.
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