14 shocks follow 7.7 quake

| 29/01/2020 | 67 Comments
Cayman News Service
Danielle Coleman, director of Hazard Management Cayman Islands

(CNS): At least 14 after shocks were recorded in the wake of Tuesday’s 7.7 magnitude earthquake, which rocked Cayman, Cuba and Jamaica, and there could still be more to come, officials from Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI) have stated. Government leaders commended all of the first responders as well as HMCI after the quake for the successful execution of the coordinated responses, which largely all went as planned, they said during a press conference on Wednesday.

No serious structural damage or injuries have been reported, and government agencies are in the process of checking all public buildings across all three islands.

The most obvious consequence, however, is the damage to the water system and the numerous sink holes appearing around Grand Cayman, including Seven Mile Public Beach and South Sound.

HMCI Director Danielle Coleman said that many of the holes match the geographical information that they have about caves, so it is no surprise, but the goal is to map those holes to get a picture for potential hot-spots in the future. Coleman said that they would have more detailed localized measurements for the main earthquake and the following shocks in the coming days.

HMCI confirmed that the new emergency radio interruption service was successfully activated, and within minutes of the quake the first bulletins were broadcast on all 16 local stations still broadcasting. They were also sending message via social media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, with important information such as the tsunami warning.

The police played a key part in clearing the beaches after that warning and checking for damage. RCIPS Deputy Commissioner Kurt Walton said that while police resources were challenged in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, this was largely due to the massive number of people who were trying to leave George Town and the chaos that caused on the roads. Walton said that soon after the incident the capital was congested everywhere and they deployed the entire traffic unit to get the traffic moving and people out of the capital, but it took sometime.

Governor Martyn Roper said he was very impressed, given all of the tests and exercises he has been a part of since coming here just over a year ago, that the real emergency response went so well. Nevertheless, he said there would still be a review of what happened just to make sure there were no gaps in the overall response.

Premier Alden McLaughlin said that Cayman is “an incredible jurisdiction” as everything was more or less back to normal already. He noted that the airport was operational, six cruise ships were in port Wednesday morning and financial sector workers were back in office. He said people are concerned in the wake of such an event that it takes time to get back on track, but it was “business as usual”. He said the schools were being checked today but would be open tomorrow.

Home Affairs Minister Tara Rivers, who is responsible for the emergency response, was also pleased that the investment and work of the relevant departments in recent years had paid off. She was pleased the radio announcements worked as planned and that the proposed social media application in the second phase of the implementation plan would be ready later this year, which would enhance the system further.

Coleman confirmed that the app was expected to go live in April or May but urged people to have family plans in place in the event of all disasters, so that once the emergency information is publicised, they know how they will respond. she said that over the coming weeks the HMCI will be doing more outreach about encouraging families to put structured plans in place for their own actions once a disaster occurs.

See the press conference below.

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Category: Local News, Science & Nature

Comments (67)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    1. Tsunamis do not grow into gigantic tsunamis here, because we have DEEP water until 100 meters from shore. (Continental shelves cause huge build-ups but we don’t have them.)
    2. Limestone is the safest substrate in time of earthquake. It may crack in an earthquake, but that’s it — IT DOES NOT SLOSH AROUND LIKE MARL OR WET EARTH. (It’s the sloshing that takes down whole blocks of buildings in other countries, especially POORLY-BUILT concrete buildings with no proper re-bars.)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Were there aftershocks this morning as well? Can you keep updating with aftershocks? I want to know so I am sure it is not all in my mind. Thanks

  3. Anonymous says:

    Government emergency broadcast communication Failed (F+) the people of Cayman Islands. Why is the earthquake and tsunami detection equipment with Hazard Management when they don’t know how to use it. Let me guess its probably not even set up or have a trained persons to use equipment. This equipment should be with the weather forecast office who is always monitoring for weather and hurricane.

  4. Right ya so says:

    After reading the comments, do you really NEED the govt to tell you what to do?! We all know what to do or if you don’t, you should. Look it up. Be prepared. This isn’t our first earthquake and won’t be our last.

  5. Anonymous says:

    How much stronger can our buildings be ? It not the codes that keep building from collapsing In an earthquake it’s the type of ground they are on , if the ground is loose everything will rattle to bits , we are lucky most if not all buildings have solid ground under them

    • Anonymous says:

      This is not how it works.
      Brute strength will not win in a war with physics.
      In other words, it ain’t the meat, its the motion.
      And you don’t have solid grounds underneath your buildings.

    • Anonymous says:

      One common way to prevent buildings from collapsing is the “weak beam, strong column” concept. Basically, the columns in a home are built strong enough to not buckle under the maximum force a horizontal beam can impose on them. So even if the beams break, the structure has a good shot of avoiding outright collapse.

    • Anonymous says:

      You want flexibility in a tremor situation. That’s why rebar and concrete are used instead of bricks.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Just where was everyone going yesterday at 3:30 and why? It looked to me as though everyone was just using it as an excuse to go home early!

    • Anonymous says:

      Quite a few folk came to the Observation Tower to get p!$$ed from what I saw…

    • Alarmed says:

      Trying to get to their kids.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you. If I have to die from tsunami waves , I prefer to die with my arms around my children after doing everything possible to save them than around co-workers.

    • Anonymous says:

      Folks were sent home from work.
      We had a 7.7 Earthquake.
      For those not driving vehicles and did not feel anything, it was frightening for those of us who did.
      I had to hold on to walls and furniture to get out of my rocking house.
      Light fixtures were swinging, waves in my Hot Tub, garage doors banging.
      – I had never experienced an Earthquake, had no idea what was happening.

    • Anonymous says:

      Had to check on my baby mama 1, 2 and 3

  7. Anonymous says:

    Why was the Governor very impressed? Nothing really happened that required some real actions.
    Was he impressed with how the Dump fire was handled? Or he was hiding inside wearing a respiratory mask? Was it him who decided not to activate Hazard Management into an action? There got to be someone in a position of authority.

  8. George Towner says:

    To this date, we have over 200 CCTV camaras install but no SIRENS to warn us of a Tsunami. Nada! Instead we have to rely on hearing the news on our radios, phones, or, word of mouth.

    • Anonymous says:

      No need for sirens. If you feel an earthquake get up high. Wait for confirmation there is no tsunami risk. Then come down.

      A failsafe solution that works every time and costs nothing. You should try it some time.

      • Anonymous says:

        Which of the high points would you suggest we use please?

        • Anonymous says:

          Any two story building will do. If none are available, climb a tree if you have to.

        • Anonymous says:

          High hotels and apartments or the dump. You only need be least 2 floor up.

          • Anonymous says:

            Oh Woooow… I always imagine a tsunami hitting Mt. Thrashmore. A Jaws versus T-rex, Game #2, the kiss of death :)👍🏾

          • Anonymous says:

            The Dump? A tree? You should not be giving advices.
            Just watch Christmas tsunami in Asia videos to get the picture.

            • Anonymous says:

              OK. You could always stand on the beach transfixed by its approach. My suggestion would give a higher risk of survival.

              Of course I have seen the videos. The clear lesson (that is repeated by the survivors) – if you feel a strong earthquake the first thing you do is get as high as you can, as quickly as you can.

      • SMH says:

        What you mean we don’t need any sirens? Some earthquakes don’t have a tsunami threat. So having them will be a help !

      • Anonymous says:

        Scaling a possible death-trap during an earthquake is exceptionally bad advice, and I’m surprised so many people agree (maybe it shouldn’t surpirse). I’d recommend the opposite advice: if you feel an earthquake – drop whatever you are doing, and leave the building as quickly and safely as possible. Far away from possible brick fall, and be mindful to avoid congregating under power lines until it’s over. They don’t often start at full strength, they build up and then dissipate…with aftershocks for maybe a week on those >7Mag. Remain alert for tsunami and prepare for those aftershocks. Fill your tubs in case the water gets switched off. Understand that nobody in HMCI or USGS has any useful data gathering tools (or submarine mapping) on probable tsunami threats in our immediate area. They don’t exist. No buoys, no seismic telemetry data. An all-clear is just a commercial decision which assigns submarine avalanche probability to the primary event, rather than to successive aftershocks – just as likely to release kinetic energy. Similarly, snow avalanches are not always released by the first snow cannons that fire on them. Sometimes it takes a couple. Let’s hope we never have to find out. Tsunamis can range in size from a couple inches hours later, to water columns hundreds of feet high moving faster than a commercial airliner. Climbing a tree might be helpful at all. Just sayin.

    • Anonymous says:

      Relax, there’s no where to run, with sirens or not.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m sure Eric knows a good sireen vendor.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Why the dump fire caused no actions from Hazard Management, Governor and Premier?

  10. Anonymous says:

    In light of yesterday’s natural disaster threat surely the time has come now to review our disaster management capabilities. For example we do not have one locally trained geologist. Why not train a few of those for the Department of the Environment and to achieve synergies make the DOE a proper umbrella organisation in charge of meteorology and the whole lot. We have too many silos that are specialized.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I am a bit skeptical about the patting on the back that is occurring this morning, by the Hazard Management Office.

    First, I was glued to the radio and HM Facebook page. There was a long lag between their first message concerning a tsunami threat and the actual quake.

    Look at their FB posting concerning the “all clear” of the tsunami threat. It was posted after the time had passed for an actual wave to hit.

    What is the difficulty in getting alerts on our phones?? Why hasn’t this been done as yet???!! I have been getting text alerts all month concerning winning a boat from FLOW!!! So it can’t be that difficult.

    Imagine if there was an actual tsunami threat??!! How many people would have been washed away?!!

    This experience, has taught me one thing. You can’t depend on the State to help you. Have a plan, practice that plan and pray for everyone else.

    Given the gridlock that occurred yesterday on the roads, it is obvious that we are in no way shape or form to deal adequately with a serious emergency.

    • Anonymous says:

      Perhaps if the department of education hadn’t immediately sent all parents running for their children and we had confidence they were keeping them safe (including above any tsunami threat) the community would not have been exposed on coastal roads at critical times.

      Hazard managements job was to inform. They did a fair job of that. The disaster is what the civil service and public did with that information. Lack of education or stupidity? The reason does not matter when we are calling for body bags.

      • Anonymous says:

        Don’t know that I would conclude that they did a fair job. Quite frankly I believe what happened Tuesday was a failure of the Government’s duty to its citizens/residents/visitors.

        I listened to the radio and heard the alerts but it was not clear that there was a tsunami threat i.e. “residents are advised to evacuate to the nearest high point immediately”. It was when a family member who works at government building told me that they had hauled the civil servants back into the building that a real understanding of tsunami threat was understood. By the time the national alert message mentioned anything about the tsunami threat they were saying the risk had been downgraded to low.

        As far as I’m concerned, I’d say it was a failure to effectively communicate to the public by HMCI. They repeated that initial message multiple times – surely a message with more clear wording regarding the tsunami threat could have been issued.

        Furthermore, this also glaringly exposed the lack of a national plan for citizens. People need to be informed. Most large businesses have some type of plan in place but not businesses do. Schools should have their own plans. These plans should include sheltering on location or the nearest high point possible. Keeping in mind the tsunami waves travel at 500 mph and the distance of the epicentre. Which means that there is practically no time to do anything but get to the highest point.

        I appreciate this is difficult for people but we have to do what will ensure the best chance of survival. Being on the road in traffic isn’t it.

    • Anonymous says:

      And government wants more people on the island … more people = more money.🤦🏽‍♂️smh

    • Anonymous says:

      And I quote “Look at their FB posting concerning the “all clear” of the tsunami threat. It was posted after the time had passed for an actual wave to hit.”

      That’s kind of how it works Einstein. You get the all clear AFTER the time passes for any wave to hit.

      We don’t give the all clear BEFORE ok buddy?

      • Anonymous says:

        It was like half an hour after the wave had passed – and the wave arrival time was forecast by UNESCO well before the wave arrival but that wasn’t passed on. Basically if you subscribe to the USGS automated e mail tsunami warning system you would have got more information and far quicker.

        • BeaumontZodecloun says:

          Yes. We should be responsible for our own safety and not rely upon a regulatory authority that may or may have their finger on the pulse of information at the time. Same as hurricanes; you can get up-to-date coordinates and other wx data, but in the end, it is up to you to make choices toward your own safety and survival.

          UNESCO send emails 7-8 minutes after the earthquake. Time enough for almost everyone, except perhaps those on the Brac, to have gotten to high ground had it been necessary.

          There are all kinds of reasons to suppose that there are low odds of a tsunami in our area, but prudence would suggest assuming the worst case.

          We were very lucky, as this magnitude earthquake in other locations produced severe damage. We should consider this a fortuitous heads-up. People in areas that frequently have earthquakes often have family plans and even conduct drills. Again, timely reporting would be great, but the ultimate responsibility belongs to us individually.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you realise everybody left the building even Flow employees which mean they are away from their computers. Yes we received alerts from USA which they didn’t have earthquake.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Hope this now can serve as a very real warning that we need to be better prepared. People running to the airport to leave, everyone getting in their car to go home or to get water and groceries instead of staying put caused the roads to be jammed. If people had been trapped or hurt the emergency vehicles would have a hard time reaching them. Next time, stay put if you can.

    • Anonymous says:

      Next time staying put (if in a safe place) should be mandatory.

      That was an earthquake that everyone could see and feel, and the response was awful. You did not need a geologist to tell you what was happening, or an alert to tell you there was a risk of a tsunami. It should have been obvious, and yet what did 90% of the population do? They ran to low ground and drove to the coast.

      The near future may see us dealing with something far more subtle and requiring high levels of organization and cooperation – like a Wuhan virus outbreak. Seriously, what would this society do faced with that?

      We need to wise up fast.

      • Anonymous says:

        Too many third world mentalities and arrogant so called first worlders who all think no one can tell them what to do.

        You would have had caskets on wheels if a tsunami had hit.

    • Anonymous says:

      You can’t be prepared for such events here. Buildings weren’t built to seismic codes, the island is flat as a pancake..There’s nowhere to run. Just accept your fate when it happens.
      It was pure luck this time. Nothing to brag about Premier and HM CI. Notification is only useful if there is something you can do once notified, have time to act. Besides, notification is all HM can do, if they are not killed already. Earthquakes and tsunamis are not going to wait until you notified to strike.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ummm. The buildings are built to seismic codes as should be apparent to anyone not working and living in rubble today. Cayman has every reason to be proud of that element of our performance.

        • Anonymous says:

          5:20 Details please. Show me where these ‘seismic codes’ are in the planning regulations. I think we were just darn lucky nothing collapsed.

        • Anonymous says:

          5:20 Your building were built to seismic codes? LOL! Does anyone even know what seismic codes are?

      • Anonymous says:

        There is plenty high rise building….you only need be least 2 floor up..hotels, apartments, car parks, offices.

  13. Anonymous says:

    They’re so busy patting themselves on the back. It’s pure luck that the earthquake didn’t trigger a tsunami because it would have reached us well before any official response or information went out. I was still hearing on the radio that there were no tsunamis expected 25 minutes after getting the USGS advisory email saying the exact opposite.

    • Anonymous says:

      Let’s unpack that. You got your website. The folks at HMCI are getting their info directly from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.

      Who do you choose to believe? Rhetorical question.

      • Anonymous says:

        Where do you the posters USGS/ UNESCO e mail comes from? Give you a clue – the header on the email is Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre Ewa Beach Hawaii. That’s where my e mail comes from. The difference is I get it straight away and unfiltered. HMCI gets the same message but someone then edits it before putting it in the system, taking time and potentially changing the message.

      • Seismologist says:

        The Cayman Islands are not in the Pacific. The epicentre was 60 miles from the Brac, any tsunami would have arrived within 10 minutes long before any ‘official’ warnings were given.

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