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Hugo and Marilyn


"Good God! what horror and destruction - it's impossible for me to describe - or you to form any idea of it." -- Alexander Hamilton, St. Croix, 1772.


[Hurricane Hugo t-shirt, St Thomas, 1989]


Hurricane Hugo struck while I was in elementary school. I spent the night huddled in a bed with 3 other people after most of the shutters and sliding glass doors in the house blew off. "I survived the longest night - September 17-18, 1989", and I still have the T-shirts to prove it!


[Hurricane Hugo phone pole, St Thomas, 1989]


But the long aftermath was worse: more than 2 months without electricity or running water, and longer still without phones. At some point we discovered we could make phone calls off a downed telephone wire in the driveway using alligator clips. (Is this what led me later in life to a career in computer networking and internet service reliability?)


[Point Ledge after Hurrican Marilyn, St Thomas, 1995]

(Source: St. Thomas Source: Recollecting Marilyn 20 Years Later)


It was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime storm, and yet 6 years later, here we go again! This was one of the iconic images of Hurricane Marilyn, September 15-16, 1995. Protip: Don't leave your Coast Guard vessel in the harbor during a storm, unless you want it to be parked on waterfront.


[Point Ledge after Hurrican Marilyn, St Thomas, 1995]

(Source: St. Thomas Source: Hurricane Marilyn Left Behind Devastation)


And another iconic image of Marilyn. All that really matters: "We R OK". Personally, we lost a small piece of our roof, and our second building lost most of its roof. We were without electricity for almost 3 months this time, and without phones until nearly the end of the school year, but this time we had a clunky cellular phone for rare calls. Life went on.


[blue tarps after Hurrican Marilyn, St Thomas, 1995]

(Source: FEMA photo library)


So many tarps! This was still a common sight when I left for college the next year. "Today is a little bit better than yesterday." -- Addie Ottley


Jam Band's Hugo
Jam Band's Windstorm