Montserrat Hurricane – Sept 1989
5 member communications team
The group of storms which turned into Hurricane Hugo formed over the eastern Atlantic near the Cape Verde Islands on September 9, 1989. The band of storms quickly grew. On September 11, 1989 the intensifying storm had a name: Tropical Storm Hugo.
On September 13, Tropical Storm Hugo had become Hurricane Hugo, and it was spinning westward across the Atlantic Ocean.
Hurricane Hugo impacted the Caribbean and Virgin Islands crossing Guadeloupe and St. Croix on September 17th and 18th as a category 4 Hurricane.
Hugo continued northwest and reached the island of Montserrat, several hours later. Although the eye of the hurricane missed Montserrat, Hugo was still producing sustained winds of 140 mph and pounded the island. Nearly every home on Montserrat was destroyed or heavily damaged, leaving 11,000 of the island’s 12,000 people homeless. Numerous schools, hospitals, and churches were destroyed, along with the police department, the government headquarters, and the main power station.
Twenty foot waves in the harbour of the main town, Plymouth, destroyed the 180-foot stone jetty, and heavy rains of up to seven inches created mudslides at the foot of Chances Peak that destroyed 21 homes.
Ten people were killed on Montserrat, 89 injured, and damage topped $260 million, making it the most expensive hurricane in the island’s history.
Electric, water, and telephone service were disrupted for weeks, necessitating a massive U.S. and British relief effort.
Montserrat is a tiny island and British Dependant Territory situated in the Caribbean Sea, 1350 miles south east of Miami and near the other Leeward Island of Antigua.
Following the departure of the hurricane, the island was left without communications. A Navy Ship had taken on this role but was required to be released for other duties. IRC supplied a satellite communications unit (system A) with a team of operators to fill this role and offer assistance as required.
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