In this week’s ‘Memories of Casa de Campo’ post, Carol Burke recalls the day Hurricane George arrived, largely destroyed and left Casa de Campo and La Romana. Her memories are fascinating and the photos quiet incredible. The above is a ‘before’ and ‘after’ shot of Carol’s back yard – totally unrecognisable! No wonder their dog looks a little lost!
The evening of September 21, 1998, I was watching the Weather Channel – news of the hurricane which was heading towards Puerto Rico. Then it changed course, jogged a little to the south, and headed straight west towards the eastern end of Hispaniola where Casa de Campo is located.
The following morning, September 22, 1998 — who could have known it would be such a workman-like hurricane? It arrived at 8:00 AM, scrubbed Casa de Campo like a giant housemaid from the sky, and left by 5:00 PM.
The hotel guests and villa owners had been invited to spend the day in the Conference Center. I decided to stay at home that day. The villa we lived in at that time was built against an embankment, so there was a lower level which was protected. The main part of the house was upstairs and at street level.
In the lower level there was a small windowless room, and while the hurricane blew, that’s where I stayed with my three cats and two dogs for company.
Georges came in around 8:00 AM with winds that made a scouring, brushing sound. At noon, the eye of the hurricane came overhead, and all of a sudden everything was quiet and peaceful again. The sun came out, the birds started to sing, and I could hear people in the street talking. Georges was on his lunch hour.
I went upstairs to see what had happened. Winds had knocked down a fence in the little back patio, and a tree was blocking our front door, but otherwise everything seemed ok. Since the Weather Channel had said the eye was 15 miles across, and Georges was moving forward at about 15 mph, I figured that the second wind would be arriving in about an hour.
I gathered some bottles of water and some food, and went back downstairs. The other side of Georges was right on time. When the wind hit again, it scrubbed even harder. Just before it ripped off our roof, it lowered the air pressure of the little room until it was hard to breathe and my ears were popping. I heard what sounded like large pieces of concrete falling to the floor above me. A crack appeared in the ceiling of the little room and water began dripping through.
By sunset the hurricane had moved on, and the only sound was some left-over rain dripping. I walked over to the stairway and looked up. Furniture had been tossed down the stairs by the wind and I could see the sky where there used to be a ceiling.
By the next morning the rains stopped for a while and I went out to see the new day. Our living room walls had fallen, one wall fell into the house, the other wall fell into the garden, with the phone still attached. Our roof was across the street in the golf course.
Getting around the area was difficult for a few days as many trees were blocking the roads.
Here are some before and after photos I took in the first days after the hurricane.
Before the hurricane we had a living room with a ceiling, after the hurricane we had an open-air terrace!
Before the hurricane Casa de Campo had a pretty entrance portico, after the hurricane it was gone ….
Thank you Carol for such an interesting and insightful post! Carol has sent me many more ‘before and after’ the hurricane shots will I will use shortly.