GRAND CAYMAN ISLAND, Fla. (WFLA) – Tourists expecting relaxation were instead told to flee to higher ground after one of the strongest earthquakes on record hit the Caribbean Tuesday.
“It was just weird,” Jenna Callanan said. “We’re both from Massachusetts. I didn’t know what was happening.”
Callanan and her best friend, Pam McIntyre, are relatives of News Channel 8’s Staci DaSilva and live in Louisiana.
They were laying on the beach after a morning of snorkeling with stingrays when they felt the ground sway beneath them.
“You’re like, ‘this is an earthquake.’ You’re looking around. You’re looking at all the people and you’re like, ‘this is happening right now.’ It felt like it was forever but I think it only lasted like 30 or 40 seconds,” said Callanan.
Minutes later, a man in a uniform yelled something Callanan said will haunt her dreams.
“’RUN NOW! Get to higher ground there’s a tsunami warning,’” she remembered him yelling. “He didn’t have to tell me twice.”
They hunkered down for over an hour, fearing the worst.
“We’re thinking, the tsunami in Asia and it was just gonna hit, we were done. We called our friends, family, everyone and we thought it was it,” she said.
The 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck 80 miles from Jamaica. It was felt in Jamaica, Cuba, Mexico, the Cayman Islands and southern Florida.
Some buildings in Miami were evacuated.
The earthquake generated a .4 foot tsunami on the Cayman Islands and the tsunami warning was quickly lifted.
Overnight, Callanan and McIntyre woke up from the aftershocks.
Aside from some sinkholes and slight infrastructure damage, no major damage or casualties have been reported.
For Callanan and McIntyre though, if another disaster strikes this week, they are leaving before their Friday departure date.
This isn’t Pam McIntyre’s first time experiencing an unexpected and unwanted thrill on vacation.
She was in Hawaii in January 2018 when authorities mistakenly set off the missile alert and didn’t correct it for 38 minutes.
“She’s the jinx, not me,” Callanan said about her old pal, McIntyre.
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