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Hurricane Gilbert In Jamaica 1988 - Memories & Facts

by Wellesley
(Jamaica)

The Path Of Hurricane Gilbert In 1988

The Path Of Hurricane Gilbert In 1988

I was listening to our RJR this morning, on of the local radio stations in Jamaica and was reminded of the calamity brought on the island by the infamous Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, September 12.


I was a boy then, just turned 11 - now you know my age :-)

But I remember the scare that night.

A number of us huddled in my grandma's (Mammy) house. Of course, there wasn't much sleep - we couldn't.

By the way, that was in the hills of Westmoreland where I grew up.

We could hear the powerful winds breaking branches, trees uprooting, and zinc sheets flying! Of course there were all sort of other terrifying sounds I can't explain.

It was also pear (avocado) season, so we could hear them falling like bullets throughout the night!

We survived though, to God be the Glory.

There were some leaks from the zinc roofing but nothing major.

Many of our community neighbours were not so lucky though, as some of their houses lost entire roofs - totally!

Other families had to rush to neighbors and hurricane shelters for refuge!

It was quite an experience I tell you! In the morning, you could smell the damage :-(

For the first time, we could see distances we never saw before- everywhere was just bare.

I remember we picked up over two drums/ barrels of pears that fell from the trees! Most of them were pretty fit too!

(We had a number of pear trees around the yard)

My dad loved pears; I remember him coming down (from Montego Bay) to check on the family a couple of days later; I watched him devour a number of the ripe - right there out of the drums :-)

Hurricane Gilbert has certainly left a lasting memory for those of use who were fortunate (or unfortunate) to experience it.


HERE ARE SOME INSIGHTFUL FACTS ABOUT HURRICANE GILBERT IN JAMAICA!



  1. Gilbert was the first hurricane in 37 years to hit Jamaica directly then.
  2. Gilbert was deemed to be the most destructive hurricane int he history of Jamaica and the most severe since Hurricane Charlie in 1951.
  3. Damage was estimated to be over 4 billion Jamaican dollars
  4. Forty five persons died here in Jamaica
  5. Over 90% of all health facilities suffered damage
  6. Over 800,000, approximately, 30% of Jamaicans then, sought shelters (outside of their homes)
  7. It took several months for water, electricity and telephone services to be restored across Jamaica
  8. A one-month State of Public Emergency was declared for St Thomas, St Catherine, and Kingston and St Andrew.
  9. As a result of the extensive damage caused by Gilbert, the World Meteorological Organization retired the name in the spring of 1989; it was replaced with Gordon
  10. The eye measured about 15 miles across. Wind speeds averaging 75 miles per hour (mph) gusting to 127 mph were recorded in the Kingston Metropolitan Area. As the eye exited western Jamaica at 6 p.m., it intensified further (888 millibars).
  11. It was also the most intense hurricane ever observed in the Atlantic basin by that time.
  12. In total, Hurricane Gilbert killed 433 people along its path (45 persons in Jamaica) and caused about $7.1 billion (1988 USD) in damages over the course.



By the way, Wen fish come outta sea an tell yuh seh alligator have feva, believe him!; here are some important hurricane preparation tips!

VIDEO: Watch Jamaican Artiste Lloyd Lovindeer's Commentary Of Hurricane Gilbert In Jamaica




Were you around then? I'd love for you to share your memories of Hurricane Gilbert here.

Note: To learn more about hurricanes in Jamaica and the general climate of Jamaica, click here

See also: Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas

References: Wikipedia.org, Accuweather.com, Jamaica-Gleaner.com

Comments for Hurricane Gilbert In Jamaica 1988 - Memories & Facts

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Sep 15, 2019
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Hurrican Gilbert
by: Annette

Gilbert was my first hurricane. We had lots of pear trees and all the pears blew off. The roof of the nearby Pentecostal Church ended up in our yard near Brown's Town, St. Ann. It was quite an experience.

Sep 12, 2019
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Gilbert Song
by: Wellesley

By the way, I understand that this Gilbert song is still the most successful in terms of sales from Jamaica (Francois St Juste, RJR Radio, Sep 12 19)

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About The Author

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A patriotic Jamaican who adore its culture, Wellesley has been using this medium to share what he calls 'the uniqueness of Jamaica with the world' since April 2007.  

To date, he serves over 9,300 unique readers / viewers per day.

His efforts have earned this site featured positions in local publications, including the Jamaica Gleaner's Hospitality Jamaica, Carlong Publishers, as well as recognition from numerous prestigious international agencies and universities. Read more about him here.

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