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A September To Remember
(St Catherine Jamaica)
Jamaica Independence Article/ Story Contest - Entry #08 - A September To Remember
Nearly thirty-four years ago but it seems like yesterday!
I still remember Monday September 12, 1988 vividly. I had been looking forward to my 1st day of 2nd form at my Alma Mata St. Catherine High School, and couldn’t wait to regale me friends with stories of my summer fun and adventures and to catch up and hear what they had done over the holiday.
But the mighty Gilbert had other plans as when I woke up at 5am full of excitement to get into my uniform and put on my new dan dan.
Mama said gwan back to you bed yuh canna go school tiday.
At first I thought she was joking thinking it would be like all the other times when the alarm was raised that hurricane a come.
But later as I ventured outside and saw the strange whiteness that was the sky and listened the updates on RJR I started to think this one no look like it a pass wi.
I was excited and fearful all at once.
This would be my 1st official official storm like fi real real a real hurricane not juss some nuff rain and some breeze but a real storm.
I had never before seen anyone in my scheme of Succabba making this much preparations when a storm had threatened before.
By mid morning the rains slowly started and steadily worsened and the wind howled in the trees like an angry and tormented beast. Whenever Mama wasn’t looking we would crack one of the aluminum windows to take a peek outside.
At times I saw debris flying like zinc and heard loud crashes as trees fell to the ground. The whiteness seemed to engulf everywhere so white it was that it was heard to see the rain as it fell.
We couldn’t look out for long as one of my older sisters was pregnant and so Mama kept a constant check on us ever so often. My Mama raised chickens and had young ones at the time so she secured them by taking them in to stay in the house with us. It’s a good thing she did cause soon the yard was flooded and so was the chicken coop.
We were lock up inside chickens and all for what seemed like forever.
Eventually Mass Gilbert eye came and so there was a break from the rain and winds.
Mama and Daddy went out to check on the yard and neighbours. Mama thought we would just stretch our legs around the yard after being cooped up for hours but we had other plans.
Along with other neighborhood kids, we decided to walk the scheme to look at what Gilbert had done. Juss as we lef the yard there was Mama at the gate shouting unoo pickney wey unoo ago come back inna the yard and to my sister she said gyal a nuh yuh pregnant wey u ago wid yuh belly (as if she could go without her belly) and all barefoot, none of us were wearing shoes/slippers.
We all just said soon come and kept walking.
Instead of only the scheme we ended up walking all the way to the town of Old Harbour!
There was devastation everywhere a lot of homes and businesses had lost their roofs and there was flooding all around.
Many families had to seek shelter with neighbours and friends or at designated shelters like the now Old Harbour High School then Secondary.
Hurricane Gilbert was for me quite an emotional experience a mix of fear, sadness and excitement …. Lol mostly excitement and guess what, I now have my own tales to tell my daughter about “wah wah wild Gilbert” (in Lovindeer voice of course) just like Mama always told us about Hurricane Charlie of 1951……
Happy 60th Jamaica land we love always my home.
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