Hurricane Nicole: island spirit burns bright
Hurricane Nicole, the biggest storm to strike since Fabian in 2003, tore across Bermuda yesterday — but the island emerged undefeated.
Roofs were ripped off buildings, roads and homes flooded, walls and roads collapsed and trees felled, but by the day’s end the country was counting its blessings.
The Causeway suffered damage to its walls and road surface, but Michael Dunkley, the Premier, noted it was minimal and it was reopened to two-way traffic at 10pm last night. L.F. Wade International Airport will be assessed for damage today.
“We can breathe a sigh of relief. It could have been much worse,” Mr Dunkley told The Royal Gazette.
Gusts of more than 120mph were recorded at Commissioner’s Point, with Category 3 Nicole threatening to cause devastation for several hours in the morning. It subsided while the eye passed late morning, but fierce winds picked up again finally speeding away from the island late afternoon.
At one point, more than 27,000 Belco customers were without power, although that figure was down to 19,733 by press time last night. Belco said most of the repairs would have to wait until daylight.
Flooding victims included Victor Scott Primary School, while a wall came down at Somerset Cricket Club and Bailey’s Bay Cricket Club’s structure suffered extensive damage. Residents near Elbow Beach reported a significant outflow from a broken pipe, many boats around the island were smashed against rocks, and debris was aplenty.
From the tone of the reports yesterday morning, Hurricane Nicole, the sixth hurricane of the season, had the potential to surpass even Fabian. Eleventh-hour overnight forecasts alarmed residents as the National Hurricane Centre reported Nicole grew into an “extremely dangerous” Category 4.
Nicole was still a Cat 4 at 6am yesterday. But the 9am prognosis dropped it down a notch in the final leg of its approach.
Nicole nevertheless delivered an extremely powerful double punch, passing overhead an hour earlier than expected when the eye arrived shortly after 11am — and lashing the North Shore throughout the afternoon as the other side of the storm struck. As it headed off, Nicole subsided to a Category 2 storm, and was expected to dwindle into a Category 1 this morning.
As the storm advanced, the Royal Bermuda Regiment mustered a contingent of 140 troops which swung into action in Nicole’s aftermath, clearing the roads.
Four immediate response teams were stationed at Warwick Camp, with another based on the St George’s side of the Causeway to cover the East End.
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