There is a small hurricane kit in the tall lounge cupboard. The Hurricane season is generally from August to October. Hurricanes can happen even in January but that is a very rare event. If you happen to be caught on St Barts with a hurricane please read this section entirely. YOU WILL BE VERY SAFE IF YOU FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS. NO NEED TO PANIC! After the 2017 hurricane - class 5 (it should be a 6 really), we will not allow any client to stay in the villa. We will not be responsible for any client who will not move to a designated safe place. The villa must be closed. There will be no Internet, no TV, no A/C, as the Mains electricity will be turned off. It was left on for Hurricane Irma and this ruined the Spa and other electrical equipment. If you came through either “Ici et La” or “Marla” you must call them. We can't move you to other accommodation or give you a refund (act of God !). There are special shelters in designated buildings. Make your enquiries well before the Red Alert. You should have plenty of warning and time to find shelter. Listen to the FM on the amp or Internet for instructions.
Use the battery radio only if the electricity has been cut off. WARNINGS - They must be followed. Yellow alert – The hurricane is expected soon – You can still leave the island. Orange alert – The hurricane is imminent - You can no longer leave the island. The shops and the administrative buildings are now closed. You must go to the public shelter chosen. Red alert - You should now be inside the designated shelter. Listen to Radio St Barth for instructions. Violet alert – The hurricane is here, (if you haven’t noticed!) You are forbidden to go outside. The emergency services will not respond even during the eye. During the Violet alert – It can happen (and it did with Earl, Gonzalo and Irma) that the eye of the hurricane passes over St Barts. You may think that the storm has abated because the wind has dropped. This calm period can last several minutes or even longer but as the eye passes the winds will pick up from the opposite direction very quickly. Do not go out during this time. Things like fridges or metal roof plates can be flying around. They are mortal. The end of the alert will be given over the radio. Be careful as there are then 2 possibilities: Grey alert – You can now go outside and the danger is over. Orange alert - You can now go outside but the hurricane has turned around and is heading back. (As did Louis in 1995) We will not be held responsible if you fail to go to a designated safe place
Next: So what’s it like?
EARL (October 2010) passed at level 3 with winds of up to 200 kph and 7 meter waves. The damage was to the foliage. Leaves and branches were everywhere but no structural damage occurred. We had to clean the villa walls with the Karcher immediately. If we had left it till later they would be stuck firm. The pool was full of leaves but was soon cleared with the net. The pool cleaners were at the villa very quickly to get it all cleared up properly. We saw one idiot leave Gustavia harbour in his Catamaran and sail past us to Grand Colombier. He left at about 6pm just as the order not to put to sea had been implemented (Red alert). He was fished from the sea and his Catamaran was in a 1000 pieces on the beach. We were confined 20 hours in the lounge!
GONZALO (October 2014) arrived on the eastern side of the island as a tropical storm but actually made landfall as a category 2 hurricane and quickly strengthened. It caught everyone by surprise. It left as a category 3. We were ready by early afternoon and the winds got too strong by about 5pm. When the eye came over Eric came down to see us, had a lobster dinner with us that Anne-Marie had prepared the day before and went back just as the eye passed and the wind picked up again. Again no major damage on the island and the clearing up was done brilliantly by all concerned.
IRMA (September 6/7 2017) The first two were babies compared to this one. The strongest ever Atlantic hurricane at the time, with recorded gusts of 460 kilometres per hour (about 290 mph). Earthquake activity was recorded on the island but it was the force of the wind shaking everything, trees, villas etc. We were relatively lucky but still suffered lots of damage. The stories of people’s lucky escapes convinced us that no one should remain in the villa during a hurricane. They are fickle things and change speed and direction without warning. We finally arrived in St Barts on the 25th of September just as the electricity came back at the villa. Internet was only available near the airport. All telephone lines and wifi was down until the end of November. The damage was extensive all over the island. A roof had been blown about 4 kilometres over a hill. The huge deck at Nikky Beach (next to the Eden Rock Hotel) was found above Anse des Cayes (2-3 kilometres away). Fridges were blown through roofs. We found a 2 meter long and 20cm x20cm wood beam near us that had been blown from somewhere very far away. For the clear-up at our villa we made 35 trips to the rubbish dump using the family's small flatbed truck. We stayed on the island until the villa was ready to receive clients and on the 14th of December we were one of the first villas to reopen. One of the images in the album (link below) is of a silver grey Renault Clio. It was parked there when the hurricane arrived and was seen downhill, blown there during the lull of the hurricane's eye. When the hurricane had finished it was found again parked but sadly wrecked where it started!!
Here is a link to some of my images on Flickr of the aftermath of hurricane Irma.