On 17 September 1989, Hurricane Hugo struck Montserrat.
‘Hugo was the angriest storm in our known history. Perhaps. It damaged 98% of the houses, 50% severely, and destroyed 20% totally leaving nearly a quarter of the near 12,000 population homeless’.
– Howard A. Fergus in 'Hugo versus Montserrat' (Linda Lee Press, 1989).
Hugo blew away collar and tie
filled dainty appetites with breadfruit pie
minus metropolitan dressing
it washed smiles from stoic faces
moved boundary pegs from their places
sowing confusion in deed and possessions
locked sweet song-birds from their choirs
caused crabs and iguanas to show true colours
carrying their beds in the street in broad daylight
a fruitless search for leafy covers
gaulins and killi-hawks looting carrion
killed by Hugo’s boisterous batallion’
– 'From Visitation', poem by Howard A. Fergus. Extract from 'Hugo Versus Montserrat' (Linda Lee Books, 1989)
The thing is when we got up in the morning, everyone is looking at the house roof and say, not the house roof is gone but when we look across the road, you saw that your neighbour has none too. Then you go up the road and no one [had a roof]… so as kids, we start travelling around the street, looking around, and we saw that the whole area, everybody has lost their roof, whose house hasn’t been blown away was left shelter-less and took us maybe a week and everybody start putting on just one roof, and we stayed together, everybody eat the same thing, we go to the stream and we wash our clothing, before we actually got help. So it went on and on. so we knew what we had to do.
– Montserrat Resident, 2019