09 May 2013Blog

Hurricane Janet in Barbados

by Summer

Most of the people reading this blog wouldn’t have been around for the historic hurricane of 1955 in Barbados, but I am positive that EVERYONE has heard of Hurricane Janet! This September 22nd will be 58 years since this catastrophic hurricane hit our little island.

Hurricane Janet was only a tropical wave located just off of Barbados up until September 21st, when within a 12 hour space of time it strengthened suddenly to a category 1, then a category 2 hurricane, and then hit the island as a category 3 with winds of 120 mph!

Janet went on to become the most powerful hurricane of the 1955 season, reaching a category 5 storm with winds of 175 mph, killing 38 people in Barbados alone, and nearly 700 people overall.

In fact, Hurricane Janet caused the loss of the only hurricane hunter plane in history. On September 26th the pilot lost radio contact at 10:15 PM, before flying into the storm. By 11 PM, the US Navy classified the plane as overdue and the crew was officially missing. Neither the remains of the plane or any sign of the crew has ever been found.

The damage was stunning, with the bill to repair the destruction in Barbados only, being BBD $5 million! It was reported that as many as 2,000 Bajans were left homeless afterwards.

Newspaper articles

Some families were reported to have stayed in shelters for as many as 10 weeks, for fear of returning to their homes. Government eventually had to ask them to vacate so that children could start going back to school.

With hurricane season soon here, we thought it fitting not only to show how destructive hurricanes can be, but to also remember all those who lost their lives in this tragedy.

The images below were sourced from the The National Archives UK, and show a glimpse of what the scene was like on our tiny island after Hurricane Janet passed.

School rooms as shelters

School rooms used as shelter

Sorting clothes for donation

Sorting clothes for donation

Houses destroyed

Destroyed homes

Seawell Airport shed

Seawell Airport shed

Pilgrim Holiness Church

Pilgrim Holiness Church

Survivors of Hurricane Janet

Survivors of Hurricane Janet

Santa Nita Masion in Hastings

Santa Nita Masion in Hastings

Bridgetown

Bridgetown

The Royal Hastings Theartre

The Royal Hastings Theatre