Local family shaken after 7.7-magnitude earthquake in Caribbean

earthquake caymans wedding.jpg
Posted at 4:20 PM, Jan 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-28 23:38:28-05

A 7.7 magnitude earthquake was reported about 77 miles off the coast of Lucea, Jamaica, at about 1:10 p.m. on Tuesday, and one Corpus Christi family found itself caught right in the middle.

Melissa Martinez currently is on a cruise with her parents and extended family for her sister's wedding.

Lilyvet and Corey Wallace were married on the Carnival Vista, which left from Galveston and had already made a stop in Cozumel, Mexico. It was when the ship stopped on the Cayman Islands' Grand Cayman that things got moving.

Martinez said they were on Grand Cayman's famed Seven Mile Beach about to get in the water when they felt the movement, which, she said, almost knocked them over.

"As we tried to stand still to see what was really going on, people yelled 'earthquake,' " she said. "Before we knew it people were running, rushing off the beach and sinkholes started."

Martinez said the sinkholes forming on the beach were the most worrisome part.

"It was scary taking it all in," she said. "Not knowing where to run. The beach was sinking in, and we felt we didn't know what was going to fall in after that."

The United States Geological Survey said the epicenter of the quake was about 6 miles underwater, between Jamaica and Cuba. The vibrations could be felt all the way to Miami.

Martinez said her family came out of the incident unharmed, but there was a sense of panic around them.

"We tried rushing to our tour bus, and then the traffic was insane," she said. "It was like full disaster situation from there -- people running in the streets. We were scared for our safety."

Martinez and her family are glad to be back on their ship. The Vista was supposed to make a last stop in Jamaica, but Martinez is unsure if it will still head that way or will be diverted back to Galveston, since Jamaica absorbed a significant amount of of the earthquake's force.

"I am ready to be home with my children and husband," she said.