In September 2004, long before the words ‘climate change‘ ever became part and parcel of our popular global vernacular and sentiment, a nightmare weather disaster unfolded across the Bahamas. Two hurricanes slammed into the Bahamas in the same month.
Hurricane Jeanne barrelled into the northwestern Bahamas just three short weeks after Hurricane Francis had left a trail of death and destruction. Among the islands adversely affected, economically significant islands Abaco and Freeport in 2004, were as close to global disaster areas, as any war torn area on earth.
HURRICANE FRANCIS – Date: 24 August 2004 – 10 September 2004
Hurricane Frances was the second most intense tropical cyclone in the Atlantic becoming the sixth named storm, the fourth hurricane of 2004.
The storm system crossed the Atlantic in late August, quickly gaining speed and strength as it crossed over the Lessee Antilles. The Becoming hurricane status, France’s maximum sustained wind peaked at 145 mph (233 km/h), achieving Category 4 potential disaster level status. As the system’s forward motion slowed, the eye passed over San Salvador Island and very close to Cat Island.
(News Press, Monday, 06 September 2004)
Hurricane Frances became the first hurricane to impact the entire Bahamian archipelago since 1928. As a Category 4 storm system, it almost completely destroyed the agricultural economy of the Bahamas of 2004 while affecting produce yields for the following years.
Freeport International Airport was under water as the passage of Francis left several feet of salt water where the arrival and departure terminals and runway stood.
(South Florida Sun, Monday, 06 September, 2004)
HURRICANE JEANNE – 13 Sep 2004 – 29 Sep 2004
Hurricane Jeanne was called the most deadliest hurricane in the Atlantic basin since Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Jeanne became the tenth named storm, the seventh hurricane, and the fifth major hurricane of the 2004 season.
Jeanne’s hurricane eye made a direct hit on Abaco island, then turned taking a northeast direction making a sharp aim for Grand Bahama.
AFTER JEANNE, hurricane aid began pouring in from a various agencies and companies, including a community of Bahamian expatriates living in South Florida.
2004 – ISLANDS OF ABACO AND GRAND BAHAMA TAKE DIRECT HIT FROM HURRICANE JEANNE
Nassau, the capital city, was lucky in 2004. With only heavy rain and wind gusts from the outer band of the deadly, destructive hurricanes of 2004, there was minimal damage to the political and economic heart of the country. Business carried on as usual, as assistance was rendered to the other disaster stricken islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco.