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West End draws on community spirit

West End businesses were prepared to deal with Hurricane Nicole thanks in part to lessons learnt from Hurricane Gonzalo.

Sundée Faulkner, owner of Bermuda Clayworks in Dockyard, described the 2014 storm, which caused widespread damage, as a “pressure test”.

Speaking to The Royal Gazette after Hurricane Nicole battered the island on Thursday, she said: “We got flooded but we always do. “Considering what we had in Gonzalo, it's all pretty good. Gonzalo was a pressure test. I think everyone knew what they had to do.”

Ms Faulkner stayed at the pottery and gift shop gallery throughout the storm, using bags of clay to block the doors and try to keep the water at bay.

But she said the second half was much calmer and she was even able to sit outside her shop entrance where she was sheltered by the big historical buildings.

She opened up shop yesterday morning but said tourists had already been back in Dockyard on Thursday evening.

Hundred of boats had been pulled out of the waters in Dockyard in advance of the storm, hidden away in every sheltered spot.

Chris Roque, a manager at Spar Yard Marine Solutions, was getting ready to put the first boats back in the water yesterday morning.

He said only two or three fell over during the storm, but he added that these were old boats and that some damage was to be expected during 100-knot winds.

“It was a bad storm but the devastation was minimal,” he added. “We in Bermuda fare amazingly compared to other jurisdictions. “Luckily we are blessed to have strong infrastructure. Ninety per cent of this place, that is Dockyard, is fine.”

He also applauded his staff, who he said were instrumental to the effort and remarked on the community spirit in Dockyard. “The community up here is amazing. It's a real community event up here. Everybody just pulls together and makes it happen.”

According to the West End Development Corporation, it sustained minimal damage. Although assessments were still under way yesterday morning, restaurants were open for breakfast.

And while some shops in Dockyard remained closed yesterday morning, others were open by 10am and more still were well on their way to resuming normal business by noon.

Visible damage in the area appeared limited to a couple of toppled benches and blown over signs, along with the downed foliage.

Natalie Morris, of The Littlest Drawbridge Shop, and Sarah Burrows of the Bermuda Fudge Company, both in Clocktower Mall, experienced slight water damage. Ms Burrows said she'd had a “little bit of water through the old historic windows” but she added that this was to be expected.

Dockyard Glassworks also fared well throughout the storm, with staff putting it down to the recent renovations.

“Since the building has been repaired, there was very little damage,” long-time employee Heidi Proctor said.

Production manager Oliver Zawistowski added: “If anything there was a little bit of water on the studio side. That was about it.”

And glass maestro Stephen Zawistowski said the main problem was “just very dirty windows”.

Despite recording gusts of up to 136mph, the National Museum of Bermuda also escaped with little damage.

“We're fine,” curator and deputy director Elena Strong said. “It's nothing compared to the last three storms.”

Commissioner's House was badly damaged by back-to-back Hurricanes Fay and Gonzalo in 2014, only for Hurricane Joaquin to wreak further damage last year.

The building was reopened in June and Ms Strong said the newly reinforced roofs held up well during Nicole.

She said there was some water leaking through the windows, along with wind and salt spray damage on the property and leaves “everywhere”.

She added that the sheep were also fine and that the plan for yesterday morning was to assess any damage and start the cleanup before opening fully today.

Joerg Rudolf, owner of The Dockyard Pastry Shop, was also relieved that the damage was not worse.

“We're fine,” he said, adding that he only lost a “chair or two but that's it”.

“I feared for more damage than it actually did. But scary it was any way.”

Meanwhile, a wall at Somerset Cricket Club was torn down and the Rubis Boaz Island Service Station and Marina suffered some damage.

“Mostly the canopy and one of our garage doors is partly damaged,” part-owner and operator Derek Simons said. He added that he had expected “much worse” and remarked how “blessed we are — all of Bermuda — to be having this conversation”.

Hundreds of boats were pulled out of the water and stored in Dockyard, most surviving the storm unscathed (Photograph by Lisa Simpson)

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Published October 15, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated October 15, 2016 at 9:19 am)

West End draws on community spirit

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