Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Shaking all over: Earthquake hits Barbados

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.


zanne said...

We were in our car near Government Hill and my husband kept saying, "I feel dizzy..." The car just kept shaking and shaking. My 1st earthquake as well!!!

Anonymous said...

I was in Courts, Cave Shepherd giving the Sales Clerk directions to my house for a delivery when suddenly the floor felt like it was shaking. At first I felt ‘maybe they’re doing repairs and this is just vibrations". But then, I could actually see the floor shaking so I asked the young Lady “Why is this floor shaking so bad” All I heard was “What the……” Everybody started running.

My thoughts were “ Oh my God Cave shepherd is falling apart and I am in it”

We all ran to the nearest exit – One I’ve never been to as a Customer, I was following the Courts staff and figured they knew where we were going. When we got to the ground floor, the Cave Shepherd Manager (not Courts Manager)could not find the correct key for the emergency exit – we all panicked, a woman stooped down and cried. I was thinking “oh my God is this how I’m going to die”. Then the Manager came back quickly with the correct key – I heard someone say you see what the Fire Officer was telling us this door should not be locked.

This Guy in a Courts Blue Shirt was telling not to panick to walk and not run, be careful stop panicking - he appears to be well trained in handling Emergencies - Kuddos to Courts for that.

I did not think for a minute that it was an earthquake until I got outside and saw hundreds of people lining the street – all of them in shock expressing how they saw the buildings shaking.

On another note my hats off to Mr. David Thompson for canceling the political meeting in Independence Square, however I am disappointed in our PM. I listened to the radio for a long time all afternoon & evening – not one word from the PM. However, later on, I heard him on the radio carrying on his “PARTYING” at Illaro Court. And then again tonight to hear him tell us the public of Barbados that “It shows how strong the island is”. I never expected such blasphemy from him, a Man I have admired since 1994. He could have reassured us that God still loves Barbados and strengthened our faith in the Almighty, but he showed no thanks for being spared.

Anonymous said...

I was at home on the telephone with a friend. I was kicking my off the bed, when i saw my TV shaking, I was like, what the hell going on, I don't live in a wooden home so how could my kicking affect the TV. I got up and realised the ground was moving,( at that time I was in a bra and panties) and I was like "EARTHQAUKE!!!" and ran outside in the road.

However as soon as I got outside, I realised my state, Thank God my mom had sheets on the line, I dragged one of them off and wrapped it around my body.

All the while, my dad was like,"Why you outside ?" I was like "daddy you can feel we having an earthquake?", he then replied " yes, but you not supposed to run outside, they say the best place to be is under a table or under a doorway..."

All in all for me, it was a very terrifying experience especially since that caving in in Brittons Road had recently happened like 3 months earlier, but thank God we were spared.