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When Your World Gets All Shook Up

30 May

May 28, 2009, at 2:30 AM, I was jarred awake by the roar of (what sounded to me like) a freight train careening through the loft bedroom. But there wasn’t just the sound of a train; there was also the violent shaking.

The wooden cabana accepted the assault, bending to the force, as a blade of grass will bend to the wind, and I was as helpless as an ant, trying to hold on. But for the 45-60 seconds that my home was resigned to the attack, it was impossible to maintain my footing.

With every step I took, the loft would shift position, tossing me side to side, while the train continued to roar. I still didn’t understand what was happening, and as I tried to make my way to the stairs, I watched with surreal fascination as my easel-back, stand-up mirror shuffled across the room like a penguin or Charlie Chaplin would.

I finally made it to the stairs, and clung to the railing with both hands while descending. Although I now appreciated the need to get out of the cabana, the sound of glass smashing when it hit the floor, and larger items falling over with a thud coming from below, was so terrifying that I hesitated, actually froze when I was only part way down the stairs.

I sidestepped around the shards of glass and made my way out of the cabana. The moment I was outside—the shaking stopped as suddenly as it had started.

We had just been hit by a 7.3 Earthquake on the Island of Roatan, Honduras!

Now, there are some who say it was 7.1 and the duration was anywhere from 30-60 seconds (depending on who you ask.) There are others who have insisted that I am wrong to say Roatan got hit by an earthquake.

Regardless of how powerful it was (according to the Richter scale) or how long it lasted, or even, what is appropriate to call it—I first-hand experienced an earthquake.

In the grand scheme of things—I can say I was lucky!

On Roatan the threat of a tsunami never materialized, there was no loss of life, and for the most part damage was minimal. Compared to other countries in recent and past history that not only endured the terrifying experience of an earthquake but also watched in horror as loved ones were lost and their homes collapsed—my sincerest sympathy and condolences to all of them!

If you were not on Roatan on that fateful day, May 28, 2009, you may be asking yourself, “What earthquake? I didn’t hear about an earthquake on Roatan.”

That’s because within minutes of it happening, news agencies around the world CNN, BBC (to name two) posted a news-alert, but then dropped it when they called people on the Island and found out that there wasn’t enough death and destruction to deem it newsworthy. But, it was newsworthy to those of us who experienced it—which hopefully will not repeat in our life-time.

Should we leave Roatan, just in case? Should you avoid coming here?

Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes (name a natural disaster) happen all around the world every day. Do people abandon their homes out of fear of what might happen? Of course not!

Roatan is my home, I sure as heck didn’t like what happened, but…Roatan is where I want to be. Besides, I’ve heard that since the earthquake last year, the odds are in our favour that another of that magnitude won’t happen again for a hundred years.

Monday, May 31, 2010 The Roatan Vortex Show on Roatan Radio the theme will be When Your World Gets All Shook Up.

For those of us on Roatan, a year ago, it was an earthquake. But earthquakes aren’t the only thing that shake up your world–what’s shaken yours?

This story was also expanded for a guest posting at Tiny Buddha

4 Responses to “When Your World Gets All Shook Up”

  1. La Gringa 30. May, 2010 at 10:28 pm #

    According to the USGS Earthquake Center, the earthquake was originally rated 7.1 but was revised upward to a 7.3. I’ll never forget that night!


    The epicenter was only 39 miles from Roatan and it was felt as far away as Mexico and Cuba. Roatan was in intensity category VII. The USGS intensity map is on the article that I wrote at the time (from La Ceiba):


    I’ve read the conversation that you are referring to and I don’t quite understand how anyone can deny that we had a 7.3 earthquake! (Except for someone who wasn’t here and is more concerned about what cruise ship passengers would think than what we actually felt.) The US government earthquake center is the world’s official source for earthquake data so I hope that will be good enough for him.

    And yes, Honduras was extremely lucky. Miraculously lucky that there was so little damage and loss of life. As we saw in Haiti with a 7.1, it could have been disastrous.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Tamara 18. Jun, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    Oh yes,it was definitely an earthquake and it DEFINITELY hit Roatan…it was 50 km from where we were (Palmetto) as the crow flies…in the sea, but Roatan was the closest land point,so I agree with you,Genny,100%. Good we all made it out alive because it was a strong one!!


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