This week I experienced what I hope will be a once in a lifetime event – a Hurricane. While I didn’t find it scary, and Bermuda certainly proved it is built for such an event, I just hate to see the damage done to trees and wildlife. And I’m not saying it wasn’t a frightening event for some, I think we were lucky where our house is located, to avoid the brunt of it.
So what was it like…?
THE DAY PRIOR – people were sent home from work early and told to do their final hurricane prep. This meant closing the shutters on windows if they weren’t already done, getting the candles, gas, water, tinned food all ready and securing any loose items outside – like scooters and outdoor furniture. It was a rather eerie feeling, like you were waiting for something.. Christmas? Maybe not. We then went for a quick trip to the south beaches to look at the Atlantic surging its fury and knew we were in for something serious.
THE EVENING BEFORE – we were told Nicole was going to arrive in the little hours of the morning so we went to bed expecting a pretty rubbish night’s sleep. And this it was. Rain and wind starting to lash against the windows around 2am and while this was only tropical storm force, it was enough to get your attention. I got up to check on things and could hear the tree frogs – not making their usual sound – but a very stressed sound. Poor things.
THE DAY OF – Nicole wasn’t to strike in all her glory until late morning, so we made the most of having power and got up early to shower and make breakfast and coffee. Just as well as 10 minutes later power was gone. We set up camp in the house and things quickly deteriorated. We monitored the websites – which I’m not sure was a sensible thing or not as seeing the eye of a hurricane which is bigger than the island you live on is a little disconcerting but also a little exciting (I mean we felt comfortable in our concrete house so what could possibly happen…?). Water then started leaking in various places in the house (nothing too serious) and Nicole just lashed and lashed away in all her fury – reaching the island as a Category 3 (which was good news as she was a 4 before she made contact). I spent a good couple of hours just staring out the one window that didn’t have shutters and watching limb by limb get torn off trees – like a lion with its prey. Debris and leaves were flying everywhere and sheets of rain going horizontally.
THE EYE – then all of a sudden she eased up, you could hear birds chirping, and the sky lightened as the eye passed over at 11am and lasted about an hour. It was so strange I can’t really describe it. Very eerie indeed. Some liken it to standing in the middle of a bowl shaped stadium. We stepped outside to have a quick look at her damage – mostly superficial and then swiftly got ourselves back inside as we didn’t know how long the eye would last. It was very calm. And I will add, still very warm.
ROUND TWO – the second half was over much quicker as Nicole had sped up quite a bit. One thing I didn’t know prior to this, was that the wind would come from the other direction in the second half. Thinking about it now, it makes total sense – we just weren’t prepared for this. This ‘side’ of the storm didn’t impact us as much, but she was still ferocious with winds up to 120mph (195 kmph) that made her one of, or equal to the strongest hurricane on record to hit Bermuda.
AFTERWARDS – by late afternoon things had calmed down as she’d passed the island and moved north into the Atlantic. We ventured out and down to the water (still very rough and swelly). Torn limbs and whole trees were strewn everywhere. Coconuts were on the ground and those with avocado trees were counting the hundreds that had been shaken to the ground.
One thing that surprised us completely was how fast power was restored to many areas of the island – by 11pm that night we were up and running. Incredibly no one was badly injured and most people were back to work the next day! Schools stayed closed the day after but driving around this morning, other than people cleaning up tree branches everywhere, you wouldn’t really know there had been a major hurricane rip through Bermuda two days earlier.
One annoying thing is there seems to have been an influx of ants after the storm! I guess that if that is our biggest problem, then we are pretty lucky.
If you want to check out footage of the storm, this is a good compilation from the local newspaper. Royal Gazette Youtube – Hurricane Nicole
Kiwi in Bermuda