The Caribbean Hurricane Page
Updates from the Islands
See also the updates on this webpage: http://www.house.gov/christian-green/hurricane.htm
The recent updates can be found on another page.
[Tue, 22 Sep 1998 14:58EDT] - Dana Victor Montenegro reporting on St. Thomas, USVI:
I just spoke to someone at FEMA Region II (which has responsibility for Puerto Rico and the USVI). They say that St. Thomas did not take the full brunt of the hurricane and has limited damage expected to be far less than that inflicted by our two previous strikes (Hugo and Marilyn). The airport will be opened by today. On-island phone service is still operation for most people though (as you all know) long distance service is still not functioning. ATT is sending a crew that will assess the damage today and should have service up tomorrow. Radio stations are still in operation and most roads are passable. Both St. Thomas and St. Croix hospitals are functioning. There are no reported fatalities. Our Delegate to Congress also confirmed this information and will be posting information on her web site shortly at www.house.gov/christian-green/.
[Tue, 22 Sep 1998 12:33EDT] - Terry reporting on St. Thomas, USVI (received via Kelly Karpoe):
Ok...here goes...Don't want to worried everyone to death but I just received a very disturbing phone call from a friend who works for FEMA. : She said they had an underground shelter in Red Hook that they have have no contact with since last night at 7:00. She said that it seems to be much worse than what is shown on TV. They are expecting Marylin like or worse conditions. All phone services (even cell) are down. They did speak with someone on a ham radio in St Thomas who said it was extremely bad and there is a 24 hour curfew. No one is allowed to leave their homes. He said there were roofs and debris everywhere and was scared for the lives of some who did not take proper precautions. FEMA has a plane which was scheduled to fly over the island at 11:00 this morning, then land. When they are able to contact the states on conditions my friend will know immediately and call me so I can inform all. Lets all pray that this is not what they expect here. I will update any further news as soon as I get it.......Terrie I am really sorry but I just wanted to let you all know what i was told
[Mon, 21 Sep 1998 11:29] - Chris Judd reporting from St. Thomas, USVI:
We are on the West end of STT and went to Brewers for a walk this morning at 9 or so. There were signs of wind during the night as there was a good sized palm upturned on the beach. Right now it feels like a warm fall day in October back in New York. Its actually quite nice right now. The light winds are refreshing. WAPA has been on the ball and it seems like everything that could be done has... so lets get ready to rumble... only not too much. Thanks to all who wrote last night with words of support, and good luck to all. I'll try to write again soon.
[Mon, 21 Sep 1998 11:24EDT] - Father José Antonio Oquendo-Pabón reporting from Tutu Estate, St. Thomas, USVI:
Hi all, shocking we are still connected isn't it? It is about 11:30 am and the winds beating on St. Thomas are massive. THE MONSTER IS COMING. It's outer arms are beating down on us in strong waves of wind. But that is nothing yet for old Georgie is myopic and thinks St. Thomas is the Dragon's tail. When the wind swirls it pounds as if it were angry. The howling wind is ghastly!!!!!!! "Let the heavens rejoice and be glad". There is a beauty to the thing, really. For those who need some prayer help, remember the Lord's answer to Job? The power of the Lord is overwhelming, "Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me if you have understanding...... Have you entered the storehouse of the snow and seen the treasury of the hail which I have reserved for times of stress....which way to the parting of the winds, whence the east wind spreads over the earth?" (Job 38 especially verses 4, 22 to 24.) And it sure is spreading over the Virgin Islands, the last advisory stated that <..GEORGES BEGINS POUNDING THE VIRGIN ISLANDS...PUERTO RICO NEXT... ALL PRECAUTIONS SHOULD BE NEARING COMPLETION... HURRICANE WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT FOR THE U.S. AND BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS...PUERTO RICO...AND THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC. AT 11 AM AST...1500 UTC...A HURRICANE WATCH IS ISSUED FOR THE NORTH COAST OF HAITI FROM ST NICOLAS TO THE BORDER OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC...AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE BAHAMAS HAS ISSUED A HURRICANE WATCH FOR THE SOUTHEASTERN BAHAMAS AND THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS.> I keep crying wolf, I am sorry, if I can't send again I will after it is over. Anybody got some root beer, that is just about my speed and I am thirsty! A blessing on you all. From Tutu Estate, St. Thomas, USVI, Father José Antonio Oquendo-Pabón.
[Mon, 21 Sep 1998 10:23EDT] - Father José Antonio Oquendo-Pabón reporting from Tutu Estate, St. Thomas, USVI:
THE DRAGON SLAYER Hello all, 10:25 am. Good old GEORGES lost his dragon and figured he'd take a vacation downside, "down the way where the nights are gay...". Somebody knows where his dragon is?, cause the fury that is descending now on St. Thomas is unbelivable. Hurricane force winds, little water, a howling of wolves I wouldn't want to dance with. Sounds like the thing is much closer than the news has it. I am surprised we still have electricity. Thank God for that. At any time you may lose me so here's to you all. I toast, with my coffe cup in hand, all those who have been praying for me and us islanders as I keep thinking "I wanna go home, I don't want to go to OZ". I have my bathroom window open a wee bit and a northwest window so the pressure doesn't build and the gust that just blew in and out scared me enough to make me jump. Don't want to implode, though, if it gets really bad I must go downstairs. I figure, if I am still on line, I will pack my computer at around 11:30 am. (If I lose it, any one donating a laptap? I'll go crazy without one. Just kidding - we hope this house is safe enough. I think that most phones are out now but nothing more serious seems to have happened than the small pieces of zinc and lids that have flown by. Just went to bathroom and looked out of window and the neighbors from across the street are on the porch! The man is still nailing up his house! What a life this is. I wouldn't go out if you paid me.... Be well all and keep the prayers up. Father José Antonio Oquendo-Pabón
[Mon, 21 Sep 1998 09:35EDT] - Father José Antonio Oquendo-Pabón reporting from Tutu Estate, St. Thomas, USVI:
9:25, hurricane force winds arriving now, should be here in all its glory by noon, could be last update until after storms. Please pray for us. Things are still basically calm although I saw a garbage can rolling down the hill. Some people have called although there is not much more I can say. Phones were out for a couple of minutes. I am now on modem and regular phone line. Gusts are quite strong, enough to creak the wood nailed to the walls and windows that have a small bit of spacing. Since it was strengthening the wind is louder and wilder bending the trees a bit. Alas, no more fruit on the trees in garden. I guess I should thank God I face the northwest. Take care all, here's hoping I can get back to you. Light flickers so I'd better sign off,
[Mon, 21 Sep 1998 08:44EDT] - Father José Antonio Oquendo-Pabón reporting from Tutu Estate, St. Thomas, USVI:
8:45 am, St Thomas is windy, wet and howling. The dogs finally began to bark again an hour ago. Yelping is the word for it, though, not the usual bark at someone passing by. Sort of like the bark from hill to hill the old Dalmatians Cartoon Movie (I have not seen the newer version) had when the dogs passed the news back to the parents of where the puppies were. We natives are getting restless as we rise. Have heard children shouting and people talking for first time since yesterday evening. The guy with the electric saw is still at it, must be taking advantage of the fact he isn't working to build his house. Some gusts now exceed 65 mph winds, enough to rip the small papaya fruit from the trees in the church gardens. The graphics of the storm have the monster right over the BVI, USVI, and Vieques and Culebra Islands belonging to Puerto Rico. It still is east of St. Croix; however, the relative dryness of the wind makes me fear for trees, grass and plants. The Caribbean has beautiful flora. Some might say "you'd do better to fear for human lives". Yes, but our life here is surrounded by God's beautiful creation and the depressing images of last hurricane in St. Croix that left a barren and naked brown landscape is something we never want to see again. For those of you stateside and in the larger Antilles, weather in St. Thomas has not really become dangerous although some gusts seem to break the sound barrier and lights flicker every now and then. Time enough NOW to call your loved ones if you want a familial update since if lines go down with the hurricane force winds we will probably be out for days. We all are just waiting and waiting and praying so cheer them up and call them and let them know you are with them in spirit. Be blessed,
[Mon, 21 Sep 1998 07:21EDT] - Father José Antonio Oquendo-Pabón reporting from Tutu Estate, St. Thomas, USVI:
Hello everyone, it is 7:14 am in America's Paradise, just heard a couple of minutes ago that the weakening is over, GEORGES seems to be gathering strength for the onslaught, it is tougher for us, then. Winds are still howling in, in waves, with some rain. (light just flickered at 7:15). Some still insist on checking out the scenery by driving along route 38 heading from 4 winds towards the east side. Unbelievable. Winds are becoming stronger and stronger. Funny, I read in one of the messages from Antigua? Anguila? that they heard birds chirping. I just did. Never have before during a hurricane. Somewhere far off a siren sounds and the lights are flickering as the winds batter more. Will try to write later. Signing off at 7:23 am. Be well all, from St Thomas, USVI, Father José Antonio Oquendo-Pabón
[Mon, 21 Sep 1998 06:06EDT] - Father José Antonio Oquendo-Pabón reporting from Tutu Estate, St. Thomas, USVI:
It is now 6:00 am. The first consistent waves of battering rains and wind have begun to batter us, my room is on the northwest facing a hill that has two homes on it so it is well protected. The front of the building faces the east from where the monster comes and the scene outside is still that of a very rainy and windy day. Every once in a while a strong gust hits with a howling that frightens, that is why I do not understand how someone can be out driving in this weather. Few cars go by a very busy street but even those needlessly put their lives and the lives of the Guard and the Police who must go after them in danger. Usually by now I get ready for morning mass which is at 6:30 am: there will be none today as I announced yesterday I'd celebrate mass bedside if there were heavy winds in the morning. If the winds keep up we will lose electricity before noon. I feel sorry for those who went through Hugo and Marilyn and Luis and God knows how many other Hurricanes and are alone, as I am. This wind and howling is only reminding them, as it is me, of what is coming. But for now, only the storm level wind and the rains. Will sign off now since electricity flickered and don't want to lose what I have written. Be blessed all and, in spite of GEORGES, have a good day.
[Mon, 21 Sep 1998 05:33EDT] - Father José Antonio Oquendo-Pabón reporting from Tutu Estate, St. Thomas, USVI:
Good morning everyone, it is now 5:00 am in St. Thomas, USVI. The storm winds have arrived. I took a nap of over 3 hours, finally slept like a log although some neighbor was running an electric saw at 12:30 am. I was exhausted jumping from the PR newspaper online and CNN reports, running to look at the window, ICQing my sister, Dr. Ana Cristina Oquendo Pabon, from St. Petersburg, Fl, and friends from various places, reading constant general and personal email from Caribbean, Coqui and Borinquen Lists and those who have read my updates from this page, answering telephone calls from parishoners, family and friends and those of you who were worried about family. CBS Radio wanted me to call but had no time for that unless they called me. I am certainly not looking, am not anxious for publicity. Anyway, the weather right now is tropical storm weather. For you northerners who have never experienced this, the best I can do is this. Having grown up in Brooklyn, New York, I use to hate the cold autumn rains when we went to school in Brooklyn Heights from Fort Greene, waiting for a bus that never came. The gusts of winds would sometimes blow you across the pavement toward a wall or a fence, howling as it bit at you, shaking you the way it shook a leaf off of a tree. Take out the cold - although for the Caribbean it is cold right now, that is why I woke up at 4:35, had to turn off the ceiling fan - and you have what we are experiencing. There are no lights in the homes around the church or parish house, although the porch lights in most houses are on as they are on all mornings. The dogs of the neighborhood, usually howling all night and keeping me awake, have been quiet since they whimpered yesterday afternoon. The wind is howling now through my windows,
[Sun, 20 Sep 1998 23:38EDT] - Chris Judd reporting from St. Thomas, USVI:
St. Thomas at 11:30 is as beautiful if not more beautiful than ever. The stars are out, there is a slight breeze, you know the one people come down here for, and it is just a gorgeous night. It seems eerie knowing what is just out of sight. We are still waiting for the fates to take their course. George has taken a slight turn toward the north and if I were the praying type I would be on my knees asking for it to go North -way North. Good luck to everyone. Thanks for this bulletin, it is helping to calm my slightly frayed nerves.
[Sun, 20 Sep 1998 23:09EDT] - Father Jose Antonio Oquendo-Pabon reporting from Tutu Estate, St. Thomas, USVI:
Hello from America's Paradise, it is 11:00 pm and the monster is calming down. It is still dangerous but is now only 115 mph. It's tropical winds will get her in morning, it's cyclonic winds around noon unless it continues to weaken. It is however, erratic. Still no sign of GEORGES. Before going to bed I want to reassure you that nothing is happening in the Virgen Islands, people are obeying the curfew, no wind nor weather although the stifling heat from the nailed up homes is getting to us. Two of our priests are Chaplains in the Reserve and they have called to see how I was doing, assuring me that nothing comes until after 6:00 am. I have called FR. Jerome at the Cathedral, all is well. If danger approaches, I will try to write again before we lose electricity. Have a good rest everyone. And don't go out into the winds. Be blessed
[Sun, 20 Sep 1998 19:53EDT] - Father Jose Antonio Oquendo-Pabon reporting from Tutu Estate, St. Thomas, USVI:
Hello again, friends. St Thomas at 7:45 pm is calm. Even though our curfew begins in about 15 minutes there are alot of cars still out. After the afternoon message, we have had very little rain although when it began it seemed as if the deluge had arrived. People are still coming to the grocery store to get staples. Right now it is a regular Sunday night evening, perhaps a mite cooler, but nothing to say that there is a massive Hurricane system approaching. Most people finished their preparations this afternoon, and then sat before the tv or radio to listen to updates about the leeward islands where many have relatives. I have seen quite a few police cars around. There is nothing more to point out now than to thank those who have written to me. I cannot call long distance direct so those who have written they would like to speak to me can call 340 775 1650. Be blessed, all will be back to let you know about conditions at 11 or so.
[Sun, 20 Sep 1998 15:46EDT] - Father Jose Antonio Oquendo-Pabon reporting from Tutu Estate, St. Thomas, USVI:
Hello again, it is 3:45 pm in St. Thomas. Around an hour ago, with the sun still shining and the heat unbearable, dozens and dozens of cars descended onto Tutu Mall. Last minute buyers I suppose. I was going around visiting some parishoners I was concerned about when the sky became overcast and droplets rained momentarily only to be blown away with two or three gusts. The sky is now sunny again with the wind picking up slowly. Didn't sleep much last night with the hammering and now a nap is impossible since the dogs yelp every once in a while and someone is using an electric saw. This morning my parishoners were good with each other inviting those who were alone or in unsafe housing to come and spend the storm with them. The front grocery store is also still open, unending comings and goings in spite of the wind picking up slowly but surely. A moment it howled for the first time through my window, and right now the overcast is total as the wind comes with the breeze. Winds are like storm leval, far from what is coming but scary enough. Right now it has picked up and is bringing the rain. Be well all, will be back when and if I can.
[Sun, 20 Sep 1998 12:53EDT] - Max R. Schanfarber reporting from St. Thomas, USVI:
Just a quick note. The governor has sent a request to Clinton in advance of the storm for a declaration of a state of emergency in the event it is needed. Federal marshals and other support is already on island. Water and Power has pledged to keep the power on till any feeder going out can't be reset after two tries, then they will shout down the system. The governor has issued a curfew for 8:00 pm tonight and declared a price freeze to prevent gouging. It seems everything that can be done is being done. Lets hope for the best but be ready for the worst.
[Sun, 20 Sep 1998 11:20EDT] - Father Jose Antonio Oquendo-Pabon reporting from Tutu Estate, St. Thomas, USVI:
It is almost 11:30 in Saint Thomas, USVI, the weather is beautiful almost belying the monster Hurricane that is approaching the Caribbean Islands. The wind is slowly picking up but it is muggy and the sun feels hotter than ever. Everyone is calm although one can tell all are concerned not just for ourselves but for all islands as almost half if not more of the people in St. Thomas have relatives on other islands. No more hammering is heard, most preparations are done with. God knows the people need time to share and laugh and be company to each other. There is a real sense of community people telling others not to stay alone, to come to their house etc. At any rate, have a good day everyone. Will be back in afternoon.
[Sun, 20 Sep 1998 02:09EDT] - Father Jose Antonio Oquendo-Pabon reporting from Tutu Estate, St. Thomas, USVI:
Good morning everyone, it is 2:12 in the morning Sunday, 20 of sept. I am residing in Saint Thomas on Cassi Hill, Parish of Holy Family Roman Catholic Church. About half an hour ago a neighbor FINALLY finished hammering, which is why I am still awake. Took advantage of the lack of sleep to find out about the Visitor. All is calm, winds are included, but it has been raining for a while. Neighbors were hammering all day, people have been readying since Friday since the experience is not new to any of us. I will be back during the day unless the phone lines go down. My prayer is that none of the islands suffer, but from the latest graphics that seems impossible. Let's just do the best we can and leave the rest in His hands. Have a good night.
[Sat, 19 Sep 1998 21:32EDT] - David McDermott reporting from St.Thomas (USVI):
St. Thomas appears to be in a frenzy at the moment. Supermarkets are full, gas lines are long, phone lines are repeating "All circuits are busy", and vehicles are passing by with red gas containers and plywood. It finally took hold approx. 11:00 am this morning that there was a dangerous storm approaching. Early, it appeared not the case. Church services were held, a young girls soccer match was being played, and people were laughing this off. Not so at this time. The cruise ship Monarch of the Seas came in from down island about noon. They left about 7:00 pm hoping to make Puerto Rico by 2:00 am. This ship usually comes in on Mondays but the storm's approach changed it's last island's itinerary. They made lot's of phone calls as the payphones had long lines. There appears to also be a sigh of resignation, almost as if they knew it was going to hit even though they openly said it wouldn't. The sounds of "boarding up" can be heard everywhere. The repeating conversation at this time is "the storm really isn't the problem. It's the aftermath that's bad". I must agree. Current weather is partially cloudy with a passing shower and muggy. I am going to take this set-up home and work off my generator afterwards. I'll update tomorrow before the expected curfew.
[Sat, 19 Sep 1998 21:25EDT] - ST TOM reporting from St.Thomas (USVI):
"It's nine o'clock and all's well"..That is a phrase that will quickly fade of into the distance. Just watched the 9:00 EST update on the Weather Channel and the forecaster claims that this storm is worse than Hugo or Marilyn and is only 10 mph away from becomming a category 5. Looks like there's no escaping Georges, all we can do at this point is continue to prepare as best as e can and find safe haven till he blows over. The path now looks like it will be only slightly to the south of the Virgin Islands, or slightly to the north, depending on which news service you watch. Problem is that what lies just between 'a little to the north, and a little to the south' is called a direct hit, and we hope Georges passes to the south and dies somewhere in open water. As for the lower islands, of Guadeloupe, Martinique, Dominica...they are under a hurricane warning now and we hope for the best for them...Power will be shut off here 2 hours before 'impact' as the Governor says...so I'll try to give you folks an update tomorrow if possible. The defining moment of this storms landfall predictions should be the 11:00 EST update tonight from the NHC..........film at eleven.....
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