Cayman Islands earthquake spooks after Haiti disaster

Monday, July 1st, 2013 By

Recent earthquakes have Caribbean residents running scared

The Cayman Islands earthquake has people spooked after Haiti, but no injuries of damage were reported.

The recent Haiti earthquake that ravaged Port-au-Prince shook the lives of hundreds of thousands of people to their very foundation. The world has reached out with aid, from food to supplies to simply cash advance distributions for aid groups. Yet the lack of homes and the logistical nightmare of delivering aid via a completely demolished infrastructure have made Haiti a horrific scene, indeed. Now the Caribbean has experienced another earthquake: a Cayman Islands earthquake. Fortunately, this one was merely a 5.8 and there have been no initial reports of injuries or damage. It originated about 30 miles southwest of the Cayman Islands, from the Oriente Fracture Zone along the Cayman Trough.

Incidentally, the Cayman Islands experienced a 6.8 earthquake just after Hurricane Ivan in December of 2004. Even then, only minor structural damage was reported.

Buildings and homes shook while people held their breath

The Washington Post indicates that minor earthquakes are common (See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/19/AR2010011901551.html) in the Cayman Islands region, the aftermath of the Haitian disaster weighed heavily on the minds of residents.

“The whole building was rocking,” said Junior Elliott, who was delivering water to a four-story office in the George Town capital when the 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit at 9:23 a.m. Elevators were shut down, so people in the building evacuated via stairwells. Reports indicate evacuation plans were conducted in an orderly fashion and emergency services were unnecessary.

Some phone service was out for a short time

But overall, the impact of the Cayman Islands earthquake was much less than the Haiti earthquake. Aside from the difference in severity, one reason for this is that Cayman building codes require homes and commercial structures to be able to withstand both hurricanes and earthquakes. Such regulations are likely possible because the overall economy of the Cayman Islands is superior to that of Haiti. The average income of $42,000 grants Caymanians the highest standard of living of all peoples of the Caribbean region. Incidentally, that amount is higher than those of the average cash advance customer in America – although not by as much as you’d think.

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