PERICLES MAILLIS Q. C. ON THE 1932 HURRICANE

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This one flattened Abaco, shattered Man O War Cay and Green Turtle Cay. 

   when I was a law Student at Lincoln’s Inn On of the great Law Lords, Lord Justice Megarry told me he had been a cadet on a British Navy destroyer that took water and relief supplies to Man OWar Cay after the 1932 hurricane and he remembered the devastation.

 Same 1932 hurricane destroyed all the mainland settlements to the north of Abaco and Little Abaco and the Cave Cays South of Little Abaco. Some places never re-inhabited and Government continued to encourage people to move down to Dundas and Murphy Towns with the 5-acre Crown Grants and a little stone house.

Marsh Harbour has had such   surges before and 3 great hurricanes in close proximity, and lesser ones too.

Old Lucien Stratton and Papa Stewart Stratton used to tell of 1926? 1929? 1932? surges to attic level height. Their family list a baby torn from its mother’s arms. 

Time has largely erased these memories and history and historic geography are not being properly taught in our Bahamas or in the USA… (for another discussion).

I have been watching in amazement that no-one, neither our weather people nor the speech writers nor the US weather channels mention the precise exact tract and pattern that this H. Dorian has taken like the 1932 hurricane. Including all the genius icons of the Weather Channel, not even Jim Cantore. The Wikipedia account says that after Grand Bahama, like The Americans are hoping Dorian will do, the 1932 hurricane never made U.S landfall but went up and away, off shore 

Wikipedia says the 1932 “Great Abaco Hurricane had 165 mph winds but the  knowledgeable old timers of my youth, steeped in ” the hurricane rules”, long known to the British Navy and our own great seamen used to tell me that in those days the wind speed gauges would break after 140 mph and they don’t know for sure how strong those storms were.

More amazing still is that modern at least young adult Grand Bahamians have no memory or knowledge of the 1932 Hurricane and what it did to Grand Bahama. And the old timers are not passing it down. 

I attest to this because some months ago I gave a one-hour lecture on Bahamas History and Historic Geography to a Toastmaster Club in Freeport with about 30 Toastmaster and guests at least and no one in the room had ever heard of the great 1932 hurricane and what it did to Grand Bahama. 

I was told by people like the late Oris Russell, Capt. Eddie McBride and others that after leaving the devastated Abacos, the 1932 hurricane traversed Grand Bahama from East to West and the sea came over the whole of Grand Bahama and destroyed, for a time all surface wells and fresh water except Pinders Point. All the few inhabitants at the time had to move down to Pinder’s Point and some formerly inhabited areas and Settlements were never re-occupied. Many seamen were drowned, all floating property destroyed and many Grand Bahamians became Boat People, seeking new lives and opportunity in Nassau and in Florida, where in those years , despite tightening US Immigration laws, friendly, hard working decent Bahamians, black and white, were freely welcomed.

Whatever economic activity and infrastructure the then soon to been ended bootlegging had brought to West End was wiped out. 

Hopefully, the new University will produce in-depth researchers to write us quality deeply researched historical accounts of such things without shallow rushing to publication jobs.

As said in Ecclesiastes: “there is nothing new under the sun”…

My Church fathers teach that miracles are not contrary to nature but contrary to what is known of nature, which comes to mind in this hurricane context – that what we are seeing – and the horror of it all – is not new, not first time, happened before and will happen again.

People need to know these past happenings and either expect them or strive to rebuild to protect against them – but that is so very hard with who gets listened to or never even asked, or how we build and where we want to or have to live and the insane high costs of land, retrenchment, and lousy building materials and methods etc.

Respectfully sent out.

Pericles A. Maillis