[IMG: Hurricane Georges making landfall on the Dominican Republic September 22, 1998; Credit: Dennis Chesters, Marit Jentoft-Nilsen, Craig Mayhew, and Hal Pierce, Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The Caribbean Hurricane Page

Updates from the Islands
Georges - Tortola & Virgin Gorda

Date: Tue, 01 Dec 1998 17:39:05 -0500
From: Pamelah Jills Jacobson - Fort Recovery Estates (ftrhotel@caribsurf.com)

Update from Fort Recovery.  Our beach is totally renovated and looks like a
beautiful cove.  The dock is being finished soon, it is being expanded with
a gazebo structure at the end, great for sunset Yoga classes. The pool
villa and the garden penthouse two of our larger one bedrooms have had
totally new roofs put on and white washed looking very modern and inviting.
 A lot of our artwork has been reframed giving a fresh look to the
galleries in each villa.  Since Georges, the rain has been consistant
enought to create a beautiful lush island of Tortola. 

Best Regards,
Pamelah Jills Jacobson, Reservations Mgr.
Tortola, British Virgin Islands....."A Bit of Britain in the Sun"
www.fortrecovery.com  Ph(284)495-4354; Fx(284)495-4036

Date: Sun, 27 Sep 1998 17:55:36 -0500 From: Liane Le Tendre (bvivacations@caribsurf.com) (All-In-One BVI Vacations) Subject: aftermath Hi Gert, I have answered just over 300 e-mails since our power came back on last night. Most are asking the same question; what was it like? This is my response for those of you who care to read about what it is like to experience a hurricane. But in a nutshell ... it is several hours of boredom mixed with sheer terror. ________________________________________________________________________________ Report on hurricane Georges from Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands - 6 days later: Pip (my 12 year old wonderdog) and I were staying at friends at the Lighthouse Villas. Six of us (plus Pip and Peanut, another canine refugee) congregated in their largest suite on the ground floor. We had all planned to stay there the night before the storm (Sunday) to help board up and prepare for the storm. By 11:00 a.m., September 21st (Monday and also my birthday ... by the way) the skies had become quite dark, the frigate birds were enjoying the high winds (approximately 40 mph) and were hovering high above the bay. Bits of leaves and light debris were blowing around. For those of you who do not know the area, Cane Garden Bay is "picture postcard" stuff with high hills, wonderful white sand beach and aquamarine waters. It is exactly what most of us think of when day-dreaming about a Caribbean vacation. The Lighthouse Villas are nestled into the hillside about 30 to 40 feet above sea level. The storm was coming from the SE and the villas face NNW, so we were able to keep the french doors overlooking the bay open for quite some time. We watched and waited as the wind speed picked up. The clouds were screaming overhead, travelling so quickly that I was unable to even guess the speed. The wind blew across the surface of the water causing almost the same effect as when wind blows across a field of snow, sending the top bits swirling around in a light mist. The waves outside the bay were going in three different directions at the same time. Small waterspouts began to form. Then the rain began. We closed the doors but kept one window cracked open. Naturally, the power had already been shut down so as to protect against the possibility of fires or electrocution in the event that a line went down ... which is a foregone conclusion during a hurricane. Without power, there are no fans or air conditioning and it gets terribly hot and humid indoors. With windows boarded up and little light coming from the doors, it gets very dark and depressing. We had hurricane lamps, flashlights and candles going in various parts of the villa. Many who are lucky enough to have generators fired them up. We weren't amongst them. By 1:00, the storm was at full strength and the intermittent gusts were quite unnerving. Surprisingly, the sustained wind speed (which I have experienced in previous hurricanes) just wasn't the same. During Bertha, Marilyn and Luis, the wind seemed to be constant and the force didn't seem to vary much. During Georges, the wind would die down, then there would be huge gusts accompanied by driving rain and then the wind would die down again. I have heard varying reports of top wind speeds from 85 to 130 m.p.h. My guess is that the truth is somewhere in the middle. Unlike other hurricanes, we were able to go outside from time to time to check on the state of affairs around the building and our vehicles. My car hood was hit by a coconut, but all the others were just fine. The building sustained no damage of any kind. Jerry and Jeremy dragged a large branch (which had come down into the driveway) away from the building as it might have become a missile and possibly broken some windows or damaged a car. Around 2:30, my leg was throbbing and I decided that since the driving rain was preventing much "viewing" of the spectacle ... I would take a little lie down. I was staying in the suite above the rest on the second floor. Unfortunately, due to the lack of a long enough ladder, we were unable to board up the second floor windows at the rear of the villas. The noise up there was unbelievable and a little disconcerting. Just before I lay down, I took one last look out the doors and saw a windsurfing board fly by. Most of the people in the bay had done a pretty good job of securing everything, but two of the watersports places, located right on the beach, either ran out of time or didn't see fit to lash the boards, canoes and kayaks down. Somewhat antisocial if you ask me! Had any of those things hit somebody's home or car, there would certainly have been damage ... not to mention the potential to cause bodily harm. I quickly decided that it wasn't a good idea to stand in the doorway and opted to move the bed further away from the doors and windows. I had a nice nap and woke up around 5:00. The storm was still raging but the wind seemed to have died down somewhat. Pip and Peanut were crossing their legs, so Judi and I took them both out for a very brief and wet walk all the time keeping our eyes on the coconut palms on the opposite side of the driveway. We were all huddled around the battery operated radio trying to hear news of what was taking place on other parts of the island and the BVI. Nothing! I was quite shocked at the almost total lack of information the radio stations (ZBVI and ZROD) were putting on the air. In past hurricanes, ZBVI had always done a wonderful job of reporting that this boat in Sopers Hole was dragging its anchor or that tree was down on main street and the road was impassable. This time, we got zip! So we changed radio stations and tuned into WOSO in Puerto Rico and listened to John Tooey (spelling?) reporting about the storm from Florida. He did a fabulous job as usual! By 8:00 it was all over except for the rain and the clean up! I toured parts of town and the West End the following day and was pleasantly surprised to discover that we had sustained minimal damage. Of course the "usual" mess was to be seen; trees down, power lines lying across the street, roads torn up by the storm surge, some roof damage, leafless trees ... and many relieved faces. Considering the damage and loss of life Georges left in his wake throughout the Caribbean, the BVI's in general made out like bandits! I have heard that Peter Island sustained horrendous damage and will likely be closed until Christmas. I met a fellow last night who lost his roof and two walls of his home and apparently spent the last four hours of the storm hiding under his car with his cat and dog tucked under his arms. However, these stories are isolated incidences and I am guessing that his house was hit by one of the many tornadoes spawned by Georges. All in all, we were VERY lucky indeed. I hear that Florida is now taking a pounding by our very rude guest. I hope and pray that they will be as lucky as we were. We are all thinking of you. Kindest regards, Liane Le Tendre All-In-One BVI Vacations
Date: Fri, 25 Sep 1998 08:30:07 -0200 From: belmont@caribsurf.com Subject: BVI The BVI is back to normal. Late Tuesday the Mooring had there morethan 100 guest back on the water in yachts. Yesterday scba diving commenced. American Eagle is again providing service from San Juan. Most of the damage was to trees. Some long distance phone service has to be re supplied. The roads are open, electricity has been turned back on with just a few spots without. Stores and restaurants are open. Ferries are up and running. Anegada had little damage and had elcetricity on Tuesday. Nadine Battle Executive Director BVI Hotel & Commerce Assoc. bvihca@caribsurf.com
From: visar@caribsurf.com (Virgin Islands Search & Rescue) By: Alex Greenspon (Administrator)

VISAR Continues "Hurricane Net" Operations

Since September 1988 Virgin Islands Search and Rescue volunteers have run a VHF communications network during severe weather. Hurricanes Hugo (1989) and Marilyn (1995) were the times when this service was of most use but the source of quick, accurate information and the friendly voice of calm objectivity has been appreciated through all the storms.

Over the last few years an increasing percentage of boaters have reluctantly been persuaded to leave their boats (often their homes and/or businesses) to fate and seek shelter ashore for themselves and their families. This has inevitably meant that the radio traffic for the volunteers who now run the "VISAR Net" has diminished significantly - during the hurricane season of 1995 approximately 125 - 150 boats were on the net, during Georges less than five of the responding stations were people still aboard their vessels.

One of the vessels responding was a 72'ketch with five persons on board which was anchored in Great Harbour, Peter Island. This boat fared well through the first part of the storm but as the eye wall passed close to the BVI they experienced such strong winds that the lines to their hurricane mooring (primarily anchor chain) gave way and they were adrift. The skipper did his best to keep the boat motoring head-to-wind but the engine was simply not man enough for the job and began to overheat. The VISAR Hurricane Net advised the crew to try and set some form of drogue so that they could slow their down-wind drift as much as possible. Once the vessel was hove-to they began passing their GPS position to the VISAR Net so that their position and drift could be plotted. It was quickly apparent that they were drifting at about 10 knots down the Sir Frances Drake Channel and were in imminent danger of running aground.

One of the VISAR Net team (the VISAR Net is operated from their home at Havers, west of Nanny Cay on Tortola) was able to go outside and look out onto the Channel from the safety of the leeward side of their house. At this stage they were in a total "white-out" with visibility of about 300yards with winds in excess of 100 miles an hour. It was just like peering through thick fog whereby you don't really see anything, you just notice a change in the light when something moving is there. Absolute luck would have it that the vessel was spotted close to shore rolling on her beam ends in large breaking waves. Once located, the VISAR Net was able to advise them to turn in the opposite direction and head towards the middle of the channel whilst the Net anchor tried to calculate a possible safe drift area for them. The aim was to try to place them so that they could run the boat aground in an area which would inflict minimal damage to the boat and put them where they could be assisted from the shore and evacuated.

The crew aboard the boat were incredibly calm and professional in the face of danger and were able to respond to the advice given to them quickly and accurately. Having committed themselves to luck and the "hands of the Gods" the crew waited and watched for land. After what seemed an eternity for both the VISAR Net crew and the crew of the vessel they finally ran aground an astonishing 200 yards from the spot picked by the VISAR Net crew. A civilian who lives nearby braved the elements to go out in his truck and assist all five to shore and take them to shelter.

Virgin Islands Search and Rescue is a volunteer lifeboat service manned by BVI residents. They are funded by membership subscriptions, donations and fundraising events. Anyone wishing for more information about the organisation can reach them through a link from this site or via email at visar@caribsurf.com or by phone at 284-494-4357.

Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998 07:30:24 -0500 From: Lynn McKamey (scubamom@scubamom.com) Little Dix Bay resort, Virgin Gorda had limited damage. It will be closed for cleanup until October 18th. Peter Island Resort, British Virgin Islands, had no major structural damage and plans to reopen during mid to late October after clean up of landscaping and grounds. -- reported by Lynn McKamey (ScubaMom)
Liane Le Tendre is Back! -Gert Date: Wed, 23 Sep 1998 22:55:25 -0400 From: BVI Yacht Charters (sailbvi@media1.caribsurf.com) Subject: Hurricane Georges Hello Gert, (Liane here from All-In-One-BVI Vacations ... reporting via Arjan's computer) It is mostly "very good news" from the British Virgin Islands! There were no deaths (that I know of) and the loss of personal assets and property damage is minimal considering what we were expecting. Last night, I had the first good sleep I have had since Thursday. My apartment faired very well and not even a drop of rain managed to find its way through any tiny crevices! Not all were as lucky as I. Some homes (but not many) had major structural damage in that they lost their roofs ... or windows were blown out. The most obvious damage has been to roads bordering the southern shoreline and trees and foliage have been hard hit in many areas. In fact we lost what was perhaps the most famous land mark within the BVI (next to the baths) and that was the "tire swing" in Cane Garden Bay. How very sad. So many people the world over will remember that particular tree and the rope/tire swing attached to it right outside of Stanley's bar. Ah well ... all things pass, I suppose. Perhaps another "new" landmark will erupt as a result of this storm. We can only hope! Considering how well the BVI made out, I'm almost ashamed to admit that I cried like a baby when I discovered that particular tree was down. It was a "huge" part of Tortola (in my mind) and always will be. It wasn't just a landmark ... it was part and parcel of the history and culture of the BVI! So many people took pictures of it and countless children from all corners of the world have experienced the pure joy of swinging on that tire ... including myself. What a wonderful memory and how sad it is gone. We were far more fortunate than some of our neighbouring islands. Puerto Rico has reported 5 deaths, St. Kitts - 3, 12 in the Dominican Republic ... this storm (for whatever reason) was kind to the BVI! It was entirely unexpected that this "thing" (which might have been a monster) suddenly slowed down and its intensity decreased enough that the British Virgin Ilsands (as a whole) managed quite nicely and was virtually spared any major damage or loss of life. I am VERY happy to report that my knee is back down to its normal size and no longer gives me any pain whatsoever. My ankle on the other hand is still kicking up. Perhaps that's because its a relatively new injury. Don't care ... its really a lot better than the some of the alternatives. I am so proud of the British Virgin Islands government and private individuals who have assisted (as usual) in cleaning up the debris from the roads in a swift and efficient manner. All roads are passable which is most certainly the primary concern we all have. Go BVI ... What a wonderful job! In fact, I saw the Chief Minister (Ralph O'Neal, his 16 year old daughter, Abby and Richard Decastro (from the Public Works Department) in West End yesterday inspecting the damage and trying to fix some problems at a gas plant. Good-on yall for being out there and getting the job done! (They were wearing jeans as well!) There were a "few" boats affected by Georges ... but only those which were subject to the strongest winds or in places they shouldn't have been or were not properly prepared for the storm. I was completely gob-smacked to see a fully "crewed" charter yacht (which shall remain nameless) up on the rocks just east of Fort Recovery in West End ... with the charter guests still on board!!!!!!! These people (all of them including the completely irresponsible skipper) apparently did not give a second thought to personal safety, the safety of the yacht or possible damage they may do to others' property in the event of a disaster. Quite unbelievable! I have only managed to inspect the island in a circular fashion including Road Town, West End and the North side of West End through to Cane Garden Bay. I have seen no part of the East end of Tortola but have not heard any earth shattering news from that bit either. We were most certainly blessed in this storm. I would like to say how disappointed I am in our local radio stations! They gave only cursory reports of damage and never offered any eyewitness testimony or reports involving specific areas of the island as they have done in the past. There was no "talk radio" to speak of. This is a small island ... we are all concerned with how our neighbours and friends made out during the storm. The complete lack of information was both frustrating and disheartening. Shame on you ZBVI and ZROD ... where the heck were you when you were all we had to depend on? On a similar note, why the heck didn't you have some roving reporters out there after the storm to give us all the information we were forced to venture out and get for ourselves? The last thing the road crews need is several hundred (or thousand) vehicles out on the damaged roads ... trying desperately to find out what we all want to know! What are you good for ... "HUH?" In past years ... things were much better. What has chaqnged so drastically that we can't find out in Cane Garden Bay what has happened in Road Town or Josiah's Bay or Trellis Bay? Where the heck were you? Where I was (at the Lighhouse Villas in Cane Garden Bay), we were all listening to John Tooey (I appologise if the name is spelled incorrectly) at WOSO in Puerto Rico. What a fine radio station with a truely qualified meteorologist! In Tortola, our local radio stations played reggae music, had pre-taped discussions about a cook-off which had taken place at Prospect Reef, and more (totally) unrelated topics (which nobody gave a damn about) immediately following the hurricane! What planet are YOU from? Most people "desperately" want to know how the BVI's had managed during the storm! Your service was so poor, that we were "forced" to listen to John Tooey in Puerto Rico. I'm sorry, but the service provided was pathetic! Pick up the slack!!!! In regards to the marine industry, much is as it was. Few boats were lost or damaged ... except those which were on dry land on chalks. In Road Town, there were (reportedly) 8 or 9 boats which had been knocked off their chalks. Another 2 or 3 in Nanny Cay and 6 to 8 in Sopers Hole. Some buildings and homes were virtually untouched. I was at Nanny Cay the morning after the storm (prior to going home) and watched with great hope as a tiny hummingbird feasted on the (totally untouched) hibiscus in my friends yard! That one sign gave me great hope that my own home would also be fine upon my return. It was. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to whatever power out there which spared me from total destuction. Not only was everything safe and sound ... there wasn't even a single drop of water in my place! (Yeah God!) That's about everything I can report. My friends in Cane Garden Bay sustained no damge whatsoever, except Malcia lost a large portion of her Banana trees. That's about it. We all need to say goodbye to the old palm tree which, for so many years, proudly hosted the tire swing and made so many people happy and entertained (literally) thousands of children. We need to say our personal thank you's for being saved from the total carnage which other islands were subject to and we need to pray that next time ... we are just as fortunate. In the meantime, as Georges rushes towards the Florida coast, to those whom have yet to experience the devastation, we are all thinking of you and praying for your safekeeping. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the bereaved families of loved ones lost. There is nothing more to say other than we are all thinking of you and wish you well ... and a speedy recovery. On a persoanl note, I live in West End (Tortola) and have yet to recieve power. I am stinky, sweaty and yet ... almost elated at my current circumstances! I made it through completely unscathed and so did my twelve year old dog, Pip! We are both well and everything in Tortola is "almost perfect" ... as it should be! I would like to thank all (300 or more) of you who have written to me to wish us all well and said a few prayers in our behalf ... it worked! Keep it up, the hurricane season is not over. Perhaps you could add a few extra prayers for those in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and other nations which are not as fortunate as we. Their houses are not built to withstand hurricane force winds and the devastation, loss of life and living conditions are far worse. My kindest regards to all! Liane Le Tendre

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