Remembering Hurricane Luis

Aftermath of Hurricane Luis of 1995. (Photos from the National Office of Disaster services)
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Residents think back to the devastation wreaked 25 years ago

September will always be a month to remember in the minds of Antiguans and Barbudans.

Not only did Hurricane Irma three years ago have an emotional impact on many, but 25 years ago, Hurricane Luis imprinted fear in the hearts of residents.

On September 5 1995, Hurricane Luis, Category 4, was the costliest and most devastating weather system to hit the twin island State.

It left three people dead, and cost the State about US$350 million dollars in damage.

Survivors told Observer what they recalled when Hurricane Luis spent days over the island.

They remember a lot of rain and hearing the sound  of thunder.

The fierce winds made galvanise sheets cling to each other.

“The sound…vibrating like a truck engine passing, and howling wind. A tornado flew up Monk’s Hill and left a track for many years after,” one woman shared.

Another said it felt like she was “being held hostage for three days,” seeing windows blow out when hit by galvanize sheets; the landscape looking like winter, the streets of St John’s looking like a bomb had gone off, the house upside down on its roof in Old Road, no electricity for 3 months.

One woman said that they missed an entire day due to the longevity of the hurricane.

“I watched houses and rooftops disappear in five seconds,” one man recalled.

Another individual said The Gospel Medley by Shine the Light kept hope alive during the storm – the likes of which she would never want to experience again.

After the hurricane, people said that they were unable to go to school for months, and instead were helping neighbours whose entire roofs came off.

One man concluded that the biggest takeaway was the resiliency of the people of Antigua and Barbuda.

Luis was the strongest hurricane to make landfall, and the third-most intense recorded during the extremely active Atlantic season.

The system formed from a tropical wave south of Cape Verde islands, west of Africa on August 27 and attained tropical storm status on August 29.

Two days later, the storm reached hurricane status; shortly thereafter, it rapidly strengthened into a 140 mph Category 4 hurricane.

At this strength, Luis affected much of the Leeward Islands on September 4 to September 6.

Shortly before becoming extra-tropical, the hurricane-force radius wind field of Luis was the largest ever observed and measured for an Atlantic hurricane until 2019.

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