Shaken and stirred: the Earth moved for me

Earthquakes, like many major natural phenomena, often occur unpredicted, and cause much damage because they catch people unawares. So, it was yesterday, without the disasters, that at about 1.55pm in St, Andrew, Jamaica, I heard the sound of rumbling (like a truck barreling into my yard) and felt two distinct shakes, lasting a total of about five seconds. By the time that had registered in my mind as an earthquake it was over. I got up from my sofa, where I’d been resting after an early start to my sporting day, and went to the voices I heard by my garage. My housekeeper and that of a neighbour were standing in the front talking to a security guard. She was talking fast:

“Did you feel that?…I didn’t know what it was.”

Well, she should know as it was the third that we had experienced together, but I think each time was a bit different, so the mind doesn’t store the right information.

None of us really had time to drop, cover and hold on. People usually stand or sit in awe.

This time I saw no furniture rolling around on the tiled floors, or a wobbling car in the garage (as I had done in Barbados) but the shake was distinct.

Soon afterwards, ODPEM confirmed it was a 4.0 magnitude shake–minor in official terms on the Richter scale:

It later sought as much geographical details as possible. I got a message from an aunt in St. Mary that she had felt it while talking to a friend. A friend in Montego Bay area reported he felt nothing.

My wife and daughter arrived at the house about five minutes later and reported they had felt nothing, while driving in the car from the National Stadium. This was the second time my wife had been driving during an earthquake and had felt nothing; the last time was in Washington DC. She felt cheated, so much so that she wanted to stay home the rest of the afternoon in case another tremor came and she could experience it. 🙂

Later, when my daughter and I went back to the stadium to resume the swim meet, the first topic of conversation was “Did you feel it?”

On our way home, we saw what might have been a sign of damage–a toppled light pole leaning against the outer wall of a complex and the JPS trucks working to get it back erect. However, so far, I’ve seen no official reports of damage. Watching this space.