Most people will have heard that there have been bad storms in Bermuda this last week: starting with Fay and then, six days later, Gonzalo. It just so happened that my family were coming out too – great planning and forethought on my part to invite them at the peak of hurricane season, more like a naive “we didn’t have one last year so maybe …” Offspring-1 landed just 3 hours ahead of Tropical Storm Fay – BA pilots are known for their ability to land in any weather. Offspring-2 was in DisneyParis paying for her exhilarating experiences, while ours came loudly and relentlessly through the Saturday night. The dramatic finale for no1 was seeing a coconut palm tree snap in half just outside as she was sitting drinking an early morning coffee (the boiling of which entailed flashlight, saucepan, gas and matches as by then the power had given up)
By daylight we had used up all the flushes (no power = no pump = no water for flush) and were pulling straws to see who was going down to Harrington Sound to get some water … Oh, no bucket, well that answers that one. Clearly my hurricane preparation pack was not up to standard; in fact I had been using the odd item from it for the past year so now we were down to just two tins of pilchards, one of beans and a few cereal bars with one loo roll.
Later on Sunday we walked up to main road, the driveway almost impassable for the fallen trees. Traffic was surprisingly heavy – post-storm sightseeing I suppose. At that time we were unaware of the new storm brewing and I felt slightly exhilarated to have experienced something so powerful. Monday morning: family conference – decision needed; Gonzalo had been named and the BA flight takes off shortly – with or without our other offsprungs? In the end the decision was split, one came and one turned round, reasoning was unarguable, there was no leeway for being late getting back at the end of the week and so just too risky to put himself in that position. I agreed, yet still, as the hurricane approached, I felt the need to have all three with us somewhere, anywhere, just together. I became grumpy-mummy-wolf for a while.
Actually what was bothering me most was that, just two days before, I had bought a new kayak so we could all go out on the water together – it is still sitting in the hallway as yet unchristened. So proving that mothers can be irrational occasionally.
The second family conference resulted in our escape to Washington and hence the title of this post. As Gonzalo came closer we realised that if we could get off the island then in fact we should – we had no experience or skills that would be useful in the clear-up stage and sitting through another prolonged power cut with winds throwing debris in every direction was probably not going to be fun. Flights out last week were fully booked, even the extra flights. Then the airport was closed – they were boarding up windows as we took off.
We spent Friday mostly glued to news, in whatever format we could find it – Facebook, Royal Gazette, Bernews and the island emergency channel broadcasts until at the peak of the storm when all went quiet, with over 30,000 households losing power everything now was focussed on the live video feed from Dockyard – then that stopped too. The dark side of the moon.
We visited the museums along the National Mall. They are amazing – we really needed more than a long weekend. Next year, with all three offspring. I had forgotten how large American portions are – our order from the Chinese takeout last night will feed us for a week at least.
From the news, Bermuda seems to be bouncing back amazingly quickly after Hurricane Gonzalo. The baby born during the storm was not called Gonzalo, nor Harry Kane. No lives were lost as a result of the hurricane so the name will be used again.
The Offspring have returned to UK, with the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo following close behind. I hear UK has had a rough time even though the storm has lost most of its strength. In some way it might be easier to prepare and protect an island in the middle of the Atlantic than it is to organise a unified response in a larger country. In the immediate aftermath of the first storm, Fay, we met people along the road and out on the beach clearing up debris, and we joined in, as if on some giant island-wide-litter-pick. That seems to characterise Bermuda, everybody joins in. The last bit I will leave to an advert from the local hardware store that reads:
We have available the following items that have arrived today:
Generators – 5500W, 6500W, 7500W, 8000W – Tarps, Rope, Water, Lanterns, Propane, Gas / Diesel Containers, Batteries, Chainsaws, Duct Tape and Plywood.
Wishing you all the best and a quick recovery.