Watching the news over the last few weeks in September 2019 has reminded me of the highs and lows of living the tropical lifestyle. The arrival of hurricane ‘Dorian’ rekindled memories of events that shaped the outlook on life of people in the region. On this occasion, the Bahamas was not so lucky as winds of more than 220mph (355km/h) struck the northern Bahamas in the biggest storm to hit the Caribbean island chain in modern times.
No one who lives through a hurricane can ever forget it. My mother, Effie David (nee Coy) told me of the story of the night of Hurricane ‘Janet’ passing through the island of Carriacou in 1955. She was pregnant with my older brother at the time and with no other place to shelter, her family tied her to the foundations under the house to wait out the storm. More than 50years later she was able to recount the force of the wind, the howling noise, and a terror of a sky filled with flying zinc roof as houses were stripped and demolished.
Effie Adelaide Coy
Hurricanes are no novelty to islanders and some have spawned songs and poems about the events such as this one by my relatives Jo Alexis-Hagues who penned this beautiful poem full of light and dark called ‘Her name was Janet’
“She hauled the ocean into the Sky
Her fury roared with almighty cry
Her mean fetid breath blew unrestrained
The deluge came on and on it rained
She took her toll on the wretched soul (s)
With her mighty grip, she seized control
No shelter against the raging storm
Only love and faith to keep them warm”
(excerpt from ‘Her name was Janet, by Jo Alexis-Hagues)
Caribbean Hurricane season – part of life
A friend of mine asked me about how people can live in regions that are hit by these events. Well, view is that having a balance of positive and negative or Ying and Yang, allows people to build a collective resilience that helps deal with the inevitable times when you are faced with the unwelcome or unexpected. This can be seen in a number of things from food and drink to approaches in medicinal remedies where bitter is often paired with sweet. Hurricanes can devastate, but they also renew and that folks, is life.
I learnt from talking to the older Caribbean generation, there is no longer the typical hurricane season now, generally it can run from June to November, but there are variations; for example, hurricanes have occurred as early as May and July is often free of tropical storms as the water cools. Warmer water temperatures make October the month when the most hurricanes form.
So, how do they form ? Most Caribbean storms form over the Atlantic, some as far away as the coast of West Africa. They are charged by warm water and moist air, something the Caribbean has plenty of in the soggy summer months. As the warm air rises, thunderstorms occur as the tropical storms grow in intensity,
On my last trip to the Caribbean with my family, Hurricane Maria, which devastated Dominica in September 2017, had wind speeds of 280km per hour, with gusts that were even stronger. Luckily, we flew off the island four days before it hit land in order to rendezvous with more family in Carriacou. Dominica needs tourism revenue more than ever now, so traveling here is a great way to show your support, but obviously chat with your holiday provider to establish what you can do here, post Hurricane Maria.
Hurricane emergency checklist – home or away
The most important thing you can do as hurricane season approaches is to get yourself, your family and your home prepared. But, what supplies do you need to prepare for a hurricane?
Ahead of potentially devastating hurricanes, the Red Cross recommends having the following supplies on hand. You can download a copy of the Red Cross guidance here. And I have included some affiliate links above to help you put together your own kit if needed.
- Water: At least a 3-day supply; one gallon per person per day. (I prefer the water straw which purifies water)
- Food: At least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
- Extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Medications (7-day supply) and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
- Multi-purpose tool
- Copies of personal documents (insurance policies, birth certificates, lease or deed to home)
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Emergency blanket
- Insect repellent and sunscreens
- Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
- Rain gear
Alternatively, you can purchase a complete kit that supports two people for 72hrs here. Useful in most emergency situations.
Hurricane cocktail – the truth and fantasy
As you know this is not a public service blog but one which delights in sharing the positive experiences of drinking rum. So, I was fascinated to learn about the Hurricane cocktail. I had hoped to have a wonderful link to show this drink originated during an actual hurricane as a way to keep the spirits (pardon the pun) up during a tropical storm, but alas nothing as relevant as that but there are a few links.
The Hurricane cocktail is a sweet alcoholic drink made with rum, lemon juice, and passion fruit syrup. It is one of many popular drinks served in New Orleans. It is traditionally served in the tall, curvy glass known as a “hurricane glass”. This glass resembles the traditional hurricane lamp that was able to withstand strong winds and stay alight.
The story of its origins goes something like this; the creation of the passion fruit–colored relative of the daiquiri is credited to New Orleans tavern owner named Pat O’Brien. In the 1940s, he needed to create a new drink to help him get rid of all of the less-popular rum that local distributors forced him to buy before he could get a few cases of more popular liquors such as scotch and other whiskeys. He poured the concoction into hurricane lamp–shaped glasses and gave it away to sailors. The drink caught on, and it has been a mainstay in the French Quarter ever since. (Source Wikipedia)
I think my story of people holed up in a storm shelter and comforting themselves with passion fruit infused into rum and drinking this out of the storm light makes for a more interesting image.
Make your Hurricane cocktail – easy
In these blogs I always encourage readers to try, and create their own drinks that capture stories or events in their own lives. Now you have heard the truth and fantasy about the Hurricane, try this simple version for yourself.
- Add 25ml of White Rum to a cocktail shaker.
- Add 25ml of Dark Rum
- Add the passion fruit (50ml) to the shaker
- Add 50ml of fresh lemon juice.
- Shake all together for 30 seconds.
- Add ice to a clean Hurricane glass
- Strain the liquid into the Hurricane glass over the ice.
Please feel free to comment below as my aim is to educate and inform my readers about this wonderful and versatile liquid;