Hurricane Survival

Hurricane experts at a young age

Students share their storm stories
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by Tim Smith

There’s no better way of helping children understand a subject than by encouraging them to share their experiences about it with each other.

P6 pupils at East End Primary School put this idea into practice by holding a class discussion on hurricanes, recalling the times they’ve spent hunkering down with their families during major storms in years gone by.

From the frightening episodes to the joyful moments, they’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way, making them storm veterans at the tender ages of 9 and 10. Hurricanes are part of the science curricula at primary and middle school during June, according to the Ministry of Education, and are integrated into subjects such as Bermuda’s topography and climate change.

Makeba Stowe, the P6 teacher at East End, says: “Based on Bermuda’s geographical location, hurricanes are a real-life experience that our children are exposed to on an annual basis. Whether a hurricane affects Bermuda directly or indirectly, it is important for students to be aware and knowledgeable about these massive storms and the possible ramifications of these unpredictable weather conditions.

Stowe continues: “The most important message is hurricane preparedness and that they should never take anything for granted. I find the best way to get this across is through the use of books, photographs, video footage and good old-fashioned storytelling about real life experiences, which is my favourite platform!”

Here is what some students in East End P6 had to say about their scariest hurricane memories:

Jahmari Kellyman: “One time my mom had to put the washing machine next to the door because the wind was blowing against it so hard. But then it blew through anyway, so we had to get in the car and drive to my friend’s house where we could be safe. We stayed there for the rest of the storm. After the storm finished, we went back to our house and had to clean everything up.”

Osheah Douglas: “One year we had a hurricane and our roof came off, so we had to move to another house where everything was okay. When I heard it, I was scared because I did not want that to happen. We had moved all our valuables to a place where we knew they would be safe. A couple of minutes later, we heard a loud bang because an electricity pole had fallen on our neighbour’s house. We had to go through the back door and help them. The electricity pole was huge.”

Nala Outerbridge: “One year, I was outside on my porch and I came back inside the house. I turned around to look outside, and just saw the ceiling part of the porch collapse all the way to the floor. I was very thankful that I wasn’t there. I had just gone back inside because it was very windy. It taught me that you should be grateful when you are not hurt in a storm.”

Taj Signor: “The house behind ours was abandoned but it still had electrical wires going through it. When the storm came, the whole sky went blue and then there was this loud bang. There were a few more bangs and some sparks, and then everything just went dark because the electricity went out. I was kind of surprised because usually wires are covered in rubber so they don’t do that.”

Da-Xia Gibbons: “During Hurricane Humberto, the floors were coming up in our house. It was very scary. Our railing also got blown down. After the hurricane finished, we went downstairs and we found the railing all covered in leaves.”

Ms. Stowe: “The entire experience of Hurricane Emily in 1987 was extremely unnerving! If my memory serves me correctly, no one was prepared for the brutal winds and tornadoes that were entangled in the hurricane. I recall the aftermath being somewhat surreal because everything happened so quickly. The hurricane literally came, damaged and left!”

What we like about hurricanes

Nala Outerbridge: “It helps me sleep better. I don’t like to go to sleep without any sounds. My dog Astro gets scared in a storm and he wants to sit on my lap. But he’s a big dog—he’s 65 pounds!”

Jahmari Kellyman: “I like it when people come to our house to help clean up. My brother even came back from Canada to help.”

Ms. Stowe: “I’m not quite sure I like the hurricane but, when we have one, I like the camaraderie of people working together to help each other out afterwards.”

What would you tell someone who is about to experience a hurricane for the first time?

Rowan Smith: “Prepare for the unpredictable: its strength, how fast its winds are, how long it’s going to be, what damage it’s going to do. When you get word that there’s going to be a hurricane, get ready and get all your valuables, all the things that you love, in a safe place.”

Nai-Indae Simmons: “Buy rope, duct tape, anything that can keep everything safe. Buy board games so you have something to do because you might be stuck in your house for a long time.”

Shawn Fox-Bean: “Before the hurricane happens, while you still have internet, download as many things as you can so that you can play them and watch them after you lose the internet.”

Osheah Douglas: “Have the number of a friend to call in an emergency. If something happens to your house, you want to have someone to call to ensure you are safe.”

Nala Outerbridge: “Be prepared. If you have pets, bring them all inside.”

Taj Signor: “Never go outside and do silly stuff when the eye of the storm is here. Always keep your phone charged because, even without the internet, you can still dial 911 in an emergency.”

Ms. Stowe: “Don’t wait until the last minute! We tend to wait until we get news that a storm is approaching us before we start preparing. My advice is that we don’t have to wait.”

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