Hurricane Survival


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An Atlantic hurricane batters the Sea Venture as it tries to make its way from Britain to Jamestown, Virginia. The boat ends up wedged in a reef near St Catherine’s Beach and the people on board form the first settlement in Bermuda. 

1612 The fledgeling island settlement is hit by its first hurricane, shortly after the arrival of the first governor, Richard Moore. It quickly becomes clear the early colonists must build their cabins in valleys and away from the shore. 


“Some lives” are lost in frequent hurricanes, according to Governor Nathaniel Butler’s report in The Historye of the Bermudaes or Summer Islands. 


Two hurricanes hit Bermuda and result in a scarcity of food. A Dutch frigate perishes on rocks off the west shore, but islanders save the men in a rescue mission. The site is named Flemish Wracke. 


A supply ship hits heavy storms as it approaches Bermuda, finally arriving at shore with her master and many of the passengers dead. 


A court building, prison, forts at Warwick and Pembroke, many homes and numerous crops are completely destroyed by a hurricane. 


A French Captain loses his 40-tonne ship in a hurricane off Ireland Island. Five seamen drown after another ship is cast away near King’s Castle on Castle Island. 


A hurricane rages for eight hours and blows down St Peter’s Church in St George’s and a number of other churches. St Peter’s is rebuilt using stone the following year. 


All the churches that survived the storm of 1712 are blown down by another hurricane. 


Sessions House, which had been considered to be solidly constructed, is among the public buildings severely damaged by successive hurricanes. Impoverished Bermudians send a petition to King George II stating that all their crops had failed due to storms. 


A storm labelled “The Great Hurricane” forces 50 ships to drive ashore, blows down houses, tears up cedars and devastates St George’s. 


The Court House and Government House lose their roofs and “inconceivable damage” is caused to homes in the worst hurricane for 19 years, according to the Bermuda Gazette. Many boats are sunk and wharves are destroyed. 


Naval ships at Ireland Island are so badly smashed by a violent gale that the naval authorities build a breakwater to prevent a recurrence. 


Several houses are buried under sand as a 24-hour storm alters the configuration of the south shore.


The square town hall on Front Street, a key building since Hamilton became capital three years previously, loses its roof in a storm. 


Reid’s Hurricane, named after the scientific governor who researched its impact, causes such destruction to homes that many families are forced to ride it out in the open air. Remarkably, nobody dies. 


A mate and deck-load of goods are swept overboard when the brigantine Lady of the Lake gets hit by a storm on its way from New York to Bermuda. 


Houses, boats and crops suffer great damage as a 10ft-wide tornado tears up Boaz Island and fierce winds hit Paget and Spanish Point. 


Buildings including the Roman Catholic Chapel in Hamilton are blown down and Somerset Church is damaged in a succession of storms. 


The Causeway, opened nine years previously to finally provide a link between St George’s and the rest of Bermuda, is hit by a hurricane and suffers damage that takes six months to repair. 


Trinity Church in Hamilton Parish, still under construction, receives considerable damage when it is hit by a “cyclonic breeze”, according to The Royal Gazette. 


One of the fiercest storms Bermuda has ever seen destroys three-quarters of a mile of the Causeway, rips hundreds of rooms off homes, devastates St George’s and smashes infrastructure at Dockyard. 


First World War ammunitions ship SS Pollockshields smashes into reefs off the south shore in Paget, sparking a rescue mission in which 33 sailors are saved. Captain Ernest Boothe is swept overboard. 


Houses, boats and sheds are destroyed in what the Colonist and Daily News describes as “one of the worst hurricanes in many years”. 


Unprecedentedly high tides are recorded in the East End. Roads are under water and St David’s islanders claim the water breaking over the boilers “looked like Niagara Falls”. 


88 people aboard the British warship HMS Valerian are killed a few miles off Bermuda when the Havana-Bermuda Hurricane strikes. The Opera House and Oddfellows’ Hall are among the buildings damaged. 


Hurricane Edna injures three people: one with a broken arm, one with a broken leg and a third with a throat cut by a dangling telephone wire. It also wreaks havoc to boats in Hamilton Harbour, uproots hundreds of cedar trees and causes the lobby ceiling to collapse at Elbow Beach Surf Club. 


Hurricane Athene damages large amounts of vegetation. 


Hurricane Emily causes $50 million of damage when it batters Bermuda, a few hours after weather forecasters suggested it was not a major threat. 


Hurricane Felix hits Bermuda with hurricane-strength winds for more than eight hours, causing $2.5 million in damage and forcing the postponement of a referendum on independence. 


Storm Karen catches the island by surprise, quickly building from a low-pressure disturbance into a tropical storm before destroying vegetation and downing power lines. 


Four people are killed as they attempt to cross the Causeway during Hurricane Fabian, the worst storm in living memory. Gusts of more than 150mph cause destruction all over the island, with damage totalling more than $300 million. 


Hurricane Igor is more than 500 miles wide, but collapses and veers away shortly before it reaches Bermuda. It still causes flooding and 28,000 homes and businesses lose power. 


A double whammy as Hurricane Fay hits Bermuda with winds of more than 100mph, downing trees and utility poles and causing flooding, before Hurricane Gonzalo strikes with winds of 144mph one week later. Many boats are destroyed and the Causeway is damaged. Injured losses are estimated at up to $400 million. 


Hurricane Humberto damages 600 roofs with winds of up 110mph. 

Sources: Terry Tucker, Beware the Hurricane! (1996); The Royal Gazette archives

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