Rush to evacuate downtown Kingston amid Tsunami warning

Traffic moving slowly along Harbour Street in downtown Kingston.

Traffic was slow-moving in downtown Kingston Tuesday (Jan 28) as workers and persons doing business there rushed to flee the area amid a Tsunami warning that was issued for Jamaica.

Panic was created after a magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck off the coast of Lucea in Hanover. The tremor was felt in other Caribbean islands.

Several businesses in downtown, including Digicel, Grace Kennedy and KPMG sent home workers early as a precautionary measure. The rush to evacuate the downtown core resulted in bumper-to-bumper traffic along Marcus Garvey Drive and South Camp Road, among other major roadways leading out of the business district.

The tsunami warning message was issued by the US National Weather Service’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, highlighting that there is a threat of tsunami waves reaching 0.3 to 1 meter (about 1 to 3 feet) above tide level for the coasts of Jamaica, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico and the Cayman Islands.

What should you do when a Tsunami threat is issued? 

According to the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), the appropriate measures to be taken include:

  • Paying attention to news broadcasts and other bulletins or other reliable sources for updated emergency information.
  • Check your disaster supplies kit. Some supplies may need to be replaced or restocked.
  • Review evacuation plans. Make sure everyone knows there’s a potential threat and the best way to safer ground.
  • Secure unanchored objects around your home or business. Tsunami waves can sweep away loose objects.
  • Evacuate low-lying coastal areas.