The Threat of Hurricane Tammy
As a resident of St. Barths, I’ve come to appreciate the beauty and tranquility that our island offers. But as we all know, living in this paradise also means preparing for some serious storms. Just over a week ago, our idyllic island life was threatened by Hurricane Tammy, the seventh hurricane and the nineteenth named storm of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season.
Tammy was a formidable force, with sustained winds of 85 mph and moving at around 9-10 mph. This wasn’t just a tropical storm; it was a Category 1 hurricane, heading in a north-northwestward direction.
Before taking aim at St. Barths, Tammy had already made its presence felt in Guadeloupe, prompting hurricane warnings across several islands, including Guadeloupe, Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, and St. Kitts and Nevis.
Impact on Air Travel and St. Barths’ Response
In the face of such a significant threat, our island didn’t falter. The local authorities, including the Territorial Operational Center (COT), sprang into action, implementing comprehensive safety measures and ensuring the storm readiness of our community. One of the biggest challenges was managing the impact on air travel.
Our Gustaf III Airport, known for its short runway and unique descent over the hilltop, suspended all flights. This was a necessary measure to ensure the safety of passengers and staff. Moreover, our airport, despite its small size, plays a crucial role in connecting us to nearby islands, the US and mainland France. Ensuring its safety was paramount.
But what truly stood out was the unity and resilience of us, the locals. We strictly adhered to the safety instructions, sought shelter where necessary, and supported one another through the uncertainty.
After the Storm: Resilience and Recovery
When Sunday dawned, we breathed a collective sigh of relief as the storm veered off its predicted course. The sun pierced through the dissipating clouds, casting a warm glow on our resilient island. Yes, there was debris scattered on the beaches, and our daily routines were temporarily disrupted due to the closure of flights and schools. But thanks to our collective efforts and the robust crisis management, St. Barths emerged relatively unscathed.
The airport resumed operations as soon as it was safe to do so, reconnecting us with the world and signaling the return to normalcy.
A Salute to the People of St. Barths
This experience served as a stark reminder of our past ordeals, such as Hurricane Irma, reinforcing our spirit of caution and preparedness. It’s reassuring to know that we, as a community, can face any adversity head-on and emerge stronger on the other side.
So, here’s to us, the people of St. Barths. We make this island not just a beautiful tropical paradise but also a resilient and tight-knit community that stands tall in the face of adversity. Our response to Hurricane Tammy is a testament to our strength and unity, reminding us that no storm, no matter how fierce, can dampen the spirit of St. Barths.