I have experienced two Hurricanes on Antigua - Jose in October and
Lenny in November 1999. Jose began in earnest when the hairdresser
called one Tuesday morning to tell me that my appointment at
3 pm that same day was cancelled - "we're closing early today".
By that time, most buildings in St. John's were protected with
hurricane shutters - in their simplest form, wooden boards nailed
in front of doors and windows, but sometimes also rather
sophisticated systems made from metal. All shops closed (the
supermarket was completely sold out anyway). It
began to rain, and that was it for most of Tuesday. The winds
picked up and by nightfall they were strong enough for me to
avoid going outside for fear of being moved involuntarily.
(The reported wind speeds were about 130 mph).
Anyway, I was busy fending off rainwater being driven through
various windows by the wind. First our leased Internet line
died, later the telephone, and even later the public power grid
went down. Our houses had a generator which duly took over,
but only until its diesel tank was empty - then it also died,
slowly and with strange noises.
Hurricane Jose on 20 Oct 1999, 18.45 UTC.
is the prominent green spot almost exactly
center of the image, on the lower right edge
Speaking of noises - the night was strange with all that rain
hammering onto our roof (which was made from wood and covered
with tin, excellent in amplifying the sound).
I spent all of Wednesday in bed. It wasn't really a day anyway -
more like dawn slowly changing into dusk. Around noon, there
were some hours of relatively calm weather with no rain and
funny coloured clouds in the sky - the eye of the storm, probably,
because it got worse again after that. Thursday was almost
normal again, so I went to work; there were some trees on the
road, and it took some days for the power to come back (and
months for certain traffic lights to resume operation), but the
worst was over. The damage wasn't too big overall, although
quite a number of people lost their homes and some their lives.
It seems that after a hurricane, all the national phone company employees
have to help to clean up the mess - remove trees from roads, repair
traffic lights etc. Funny! (Not for them of course.)
Hurricane Lenny didn't feel as strong as Jose (I didn't have to fight the
water coming through the windows), but it lasted longer. Lenny was exceptional
because it moved in a direction different from most other Hurricanes, and
Lenny didn't hit Antigua directly, but instead hovered somewhere near
St. Maarten for a few days, bringing a lot of rain to the otherwise
rather dry island of Antigua.
A split road at Dickenson Bay after
Hurricane Lenny (Photo: Alan B. Scholl)
During and after Lenny, some roads were unusable because you simply couldn't
see them under all the mud and water. Others were partially swept away,
and although Lenny didn't cause as much direct damage as Jose, the
cleaning up seemed to take forever.
rips off roofs in Antigua (USA Today)
Jose Diary from Antigua (Antigua Today)
Lenny Index (USA Today)
Lenny Diary from Antigua (Antigua Today)
Frederik Ramm, 2001-11-15