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Jim Lawlor In The Nassau Tribune: Past Hurricanes Recalled
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Page 1 of 1Total of 1 messages
Posted by:Dec 17th 2009, 09:04:32 pm
Fig Tree News Team

Rev John Daveys' account of the 1866 Hurricane Part 2

Published On:Wednesday, December 16, 2009

By Jim Lawlor

The letter from the Rev John Davey in The Baptist Magazine of 1866 continues as follows:

From the "Nassau Guardian" we take the following description of the tempest: --

A fresh breeze blew on Sunday evening last, and those who walked on the Esplanade or elsewhere, congratulated themselves on the favourable change in the weather; but to those used to observe the weather, appearances decidedly bespoke a "blow".

The wind increased during the night, and about 7 o'clock on Monday morning had become a regular gale, accompanied with rain.

The bar of the harbour appeared a ridge of foam, and the harbour itself, formed by the long, low rocky land "Hog Island", though it kept off the main sea, yet left all exposed to the violence of the wind, which kept steadily increasing.

The short seas breaking in rapid succession upon the line of wharves along Bay-street, the abutment of the Barrack-square, the Esplanade, and rocky shore to the westward sending dense wreaths of spray over everything. Rumour soon reported much damage among the shipping.

Small boats, lumber, various gear and fragments began to bestrew the Ordnance Wharf, etc., and in Bay-street the scene was excitingly sad, most of the spacious stores and warehouses (on the north side next the harbour), principally with roofs of corrugated iron or other metals, were unroofed; immense sheets of metal were whirled along in the wind, and torn up like sheets of paper, and the whole thoroughfare was covered with portions of shipping and houses.

The passage was not only dangerous, but difficult in the extreme, the few people seen about being frequently brought to a stand-still by the corner of a street, and obliged to cling to lamp-posts or pillars of the piazzas, till a partial lull in the wind enabled them to make a run forward to go on afresh. The public market and wharf exhibited a scene of wild excitement, a number of vessels jammed together against the abutment -- fishermen and boatmen shouting to the crews of the vessels, who, like those on shore were equally unable to save their property -- the larger vessels rolling against the smaller, and smashing them to fragments, and in their turn were broken up against the stone wall of the wharf. The other streets began to show the effects of the storm - parts of verandahs, window shutters, and branches of trees, and occasionally a whole tree were blown down.

About 1.30 or 2pm, it was impossible to remain abroad; it was dangerous to take shelter under walls or houses, and totally impossible to remain standing when exposed to the presence of the wind, which shook every building.

The sensation within doors was like the vibrations of a railway car attached to an express train; the noise of the wind, combining with the sound of the waves, kept up a loud bellowing roar, varied with thunder-like gusts, and were succeeded by a crashing sound which indicated destruction of some kind or other.

Green seas were now breaking upon the wharves of the town and government property, sending their spray over the tops of the houses, and, together with the heavy falling of rain and hail, made the air as obscure as the thickest fog, which, as it now and again cleared partially for a few moments, shows some further damage, houses being dismantled in all directions, and the fragments, intermingled with branches of trees, swept along at an alarming pace.

The trees that remained standing were being rapidly stripped of their leaves. Every house was in a state of commotion, the wind and rain penetrating everywhere, doing every kind of damage, and causing indescribable inconvenience. A lull in the storm occurred about 7.30 or 8pm, which fortunately enabled those who had some shelter remaining, to offer a share of it to their less fortunate neighbours.

About 9 o'clock it sprung up again in a south-easterly direction, but with far less violence, and altogether subsided by day-break.

Next morning, the whole scene was indeed a desolation, the most familiar objects were scarcely to be recognised; some gone entirely.

Distressing accounts of the effects of the hurricane on the out-islands are being received.

We learn with sorrow that St John's Church and thirty-eight houses at Harbour Island have been levelled with the dust, and that the settlements of Spanish Wells, the Current, Governor's Harbour, and other parts of Eleuthera are nearly swept away.

At Abaco, the work of destruction has been awful.

Our correspondent at Great Harbour, in a letter dated the 4th

instant says, "I am sorry to inform you that we had a severe hurricane on the 1st of October, ruining all the plantations, making all the water in the tanks unfit for use, blowing down all the kitchens, several dwelling-houses, the public school-house, the assistant-keeper's dwelling, belonging to Elbow Cay Lighthouse, and doing a great deal more damage than I can mention. The poorer classes were trusting to their plantations, which are all destroyed, and I expect they will starve."

But as we look back in history - after the 1866 hurricane, once again as so many times in the past, the faithful residents rebuilt their lives, homes and community with the assistance of many other generous people.

And nature reached out her healing hand as the flora and fauna slowly regenerated to bring back the enchantment and beauty of the Bahamas.

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