On September 6th and 7th., 1932, hurricane winds averaging 220 miles per hour, raked across Abaco for 36 agonising hours. Prior to the hurricane, a mysterious explosion began to cause the foundations of buildings to crumble. Then ferocious winds and rain pummelled the Island. Some managed to take shelter in caves and in rock mining quarries.
Several days later, by September 13, 1932, with the death toll rising, Abaconians were desperate for any kind of help. For some inexplicable reason, assistance from Nassau was slow and woefully inadequate, leaving the storm stricken people Green Turtle Cay, Marsh Harbour, Cedar Harbour, Bluff Point, Fire Road, Cooperstown, Guana Cay, Man-O- War Cay and Cherokee Sound, to suffer under the risk of exposure, starvation and disease.
With 16 known dead and 300 injured, there was every apprehension that more of the dead would be found, in nearby settlements and cays, as rescue efforts would finally get underway.
Captain H. B. Roberts, master of the government steamer Priscilla, and a resident of Green Turtle Cay, declared the storm that raged for 36 hours was the worst in his memory.
A doctor flying over in his plane landed on the stricken island. He had no medical supplies with him, but in the face of so much misery, he performed several amputations on people whose broken broken bones had deteriorated beyond repair.
The Florida American Disaster Legion Relief Committee has completed plans to go over to assist in Abaco, but were waiting for authorisation from the Bahamas governor and government.
He declared more than a score of wounded had been dragged under the roof of the house that was slightly raised from the ground. Efforts to gain contact with the Bluff Point by either boat or plane were to be made again today, but the authorities were not hopeful that the attempt to be successful.
Six persons died at Green Turtle Cay, which suffered the centre of the storm. At Cedar Harbour, there are more six more unknown dead.
Two persons died at Guana Cay, and there were two more fatalities at Cooperstown.
Other houses of solid stone, which for many years withstood the scores of storms that have swept across Green Turtle Cay, bowed to the might of winds which Captain Roberts estimates at 220 miles per hour.
DEAD ANIMALS AND SALT WATER POISON THE WATER SUPPLY
The plight of the people is desperate. Salt water and dead animals, blown into the huge concrete tanks which are the only water supply of the various towns, have made the water on fit to drink, although it is being used. It is feared that typhoid fever has already broken out on Guana Cay and there is danger of an epidemic at other points
Food is almost totally lacking. A government boat from Nassau visited the settlements during the weekend and left and in adequate supply of flour, rice and grits.
There are more than 300 children, many of them less than a year old, who are in dire need of milk or some other food they can eat.
Most of the residents lost all of their clothing and all have an insufficient supply. Many pitiful stories are told in the little towns.
MOTHER WATCHES HER TWO CHILDREN DIE IN THE HURRICANE
At Green Turtle Cay, Deweese Lowe, 16, attempted to lead her brother Bert,2, to safety, as the winds demolished their home. As their mother, suffering from a heart ailment, watched them try to make their way across the road to another house, a piece of flying timber killed them.
MAN IS CRUSHED BY HOUSE AS HE PASSES WIFE TO SAFETY
At Guana Cay, James Sands carried his invalid wife to safety. As he passed her through the window of her brother’s home and started to climb through himself, the corner of the house collapsed, crushing him to death.
For 36 hours, 75 residents of Green Turtle Cay cowered under a rock ledge in a quarry. As rain poured down they crouched under the narrow ledge, which was their only protection from flying trees, timber and rocks.
HONEYMOON HOME DEMOLISHED BY HURRICANE
On the Friday before the storm struck, Herbert Roberts, Green Turtle Cay teacher, brought back from Marsh Harbour his new bride to the home he had built and furnished for her.
Two days after the honeymoon home was a shambles.
TIME TO GO TO CHURCH AND HOLLER
Last Sunday night, as a great tropical moon shed silver light almost as bright as day over the scene, the people of Green Turtle Cay gathered in a joint church service.
Under the guidance of the Rev. Mr. Kendrick they lifted their voices in a song of thanksgiving for their deliverance, and then, as the missionary prayed for the dead they wept and screamed hysterically.
(Miami Times News, Tuesday, 13 September, 1932)
SEPTEMBER 13, 1932 – A WEEK AFTER HURRICANE STRIKES AMERICAN RESCUE TEAMS AWAIT AUTHORISATION FROM BAHAMAS GOVERNOR BEFORE THEY CAN DELIVER MEDICINE, FOOD AND SUPPLIES TO STRICKEN ABACO
A completely organised and fully equipped relief expedition will leave Miami for stricken Abaco Island late today if the governor of the Bahamas deems the need of the desolated community is sufficient to acquire international aid.
Plans for the expedition were announced this afternoon by Joe Frank, by vice commander of the Florida American Legion disaster relief committee, who has completed plans for the trip.
Mr Frank conferred with L. A. Oates, British Vice consul here, this morning, offering the legions service to the wind broken islands. The consul immediately cabled the Bahamas government. A reply is expected momentarily.
If the Bahamas governor sanctions the trip, Mr Frank will communicate with Mr J. C. Huskinsson, secretary to Governor Carleton and commander of the Legion’s relief committee seeking approval for the plan.
It is planned to use a coast guard cutter to transport supplies to Abaco. Four or five physicians, a large amount of medical supplies, food, water and clothing would be taken. Mr. Frank said it is hoped to make arrangements whereby the state Legion would finance the undertaking.
“due to the fact that the expedition will have an international aspect, proper thorough Tis must be consulted before we can proceed with plans.” Mr Frank said.
“However, once we receive the needed permits, we can proceed within two hours. All organisation plans are perfected and we only need the signal to go.”
Food, clothing, and other supplies for the relief of storm stricking residents of Abaco , contributed by Miamians, were taken to Nassau today by the motor vessel Ena K. Contributions are being received at the offices of Saunders and Mader, agents for the boat, on the waterfront at Seventh Street. The craft will make another trip Sunday, leaving here at 1 pm. Other supplies will be taken at that time. The gifts will be turned over to the Bahamas government at Nassau for transportation to Abaco..
(The Miami News, Tuesday, 13 September 1932)
ABACO RESIDENTS APPEAL FOR SUPPLIES FROM MIAMI AS HELP FROM NASSAU DOESN’T COME
Declaring that utter devastation has been brought to communities in Abaco island by the hurricane, E. Willis Bethell, a resident of Green Turtle Cay has broadcast an appeal to aid to Miamians.
Supplies of every sort are needed Bethell said in a letter to the Daily News, sketching the horror of the storm’s visitation.
“Ninety per cent of all homes are utterly destroyed, along with all personal effects of residents. Very few have utensils for cooking and very little bed wear. Each house left must care for six to eight families. I make this appeal in God’s name and pray that all hearts may be opened.”
“We were very lucky in our death rate and the reason for that is the fact that the hurricane swept through in the day time and the buildings were not occupied. The wind blew more than 200 miles an hour.”
I am of the opinion that part of our destruction was due to a great electrical shock, because a few minutes before the destruction there was a very queer noise heard which we all took for thunder and just then the buildings began to fall.”