ST. PETERS–“Heard a sound like a big truck was passing outside. After the sound passed the bed began to shake for a few seconds” was how a St. Peters resident described the experience of the Christmas Eve earthquake that measured a 5.2 on the Richter Scale.
The about-15-second long quake severely shook the entire island and those surrounding it around 11:12am December 24.
The epicentre of the seismic activity was 22 kilometres North-Northeast of Gustavia, St. Barths, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The coordinates put the quake close to the Eastern side of St. Maarten.
First after the quake, there were preliminary reports placing the magnitude at 5.5 on the Richter Scale and close to Anguilla. However, the USGS’ final report put the quake in the vicinity of St. Barths.
Many of those shaken by the quake called it the worst they have ever experienced in their lifetime.
After the trauma of Hurricane Irma on September 6, Caribbean residents are acutely aware of the power of natural disasters.
Attention on social media after the quake quickly turned to whether the quake had triggered a tsunami warning for the local area, but there was no official or immediate response. This left many wondering what was next.
St. Maarten, with some 15 earth tremors experienced annually, has no earthquake response plan. There is no awareness campaign to teach residents how to respond in the event of an earthquake.
Some residents took a religious view of the situation. A resident of Meads Bay on Anguilla wrote on the USGS’ “Felt Report: “God is warning Anguilla of its new generation of Sodom and Gomorrah.”
Like the St. Peters resident who reported his/her observation via “Felt It,” an Oyster Pond resident wrote: “Short rumble then a bigger one. Was outside at the time. Made me feel lightheaded. Dog was disturbed by it.”
In St. Eustatius the quake was reported by a resident as “30 secs, [caused] rattling of pots in the kitchen.”
From The Valley in Anguilla came this report: “I was sitting in church which is being held in a tent due to hurricane damage. The wooden floor very clearly vibrated perhaps about 5-7 seconds. No damage but the entire congregation was aware of it.”
“Light shaking … Christmas tree was noticeably shaking along with showcases at work” was the word from Basseterre, St. Kitts.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/72195-christmas-eve-quake-severely-rocks-island