Bermuda clears up after battering from Hurricane Gonzalo
Huge storm moves northward over Atlantic towards Newfoundland
A girl views fallen pieces of a church roof after Hurricane Gonzalo passed through in Sandys Parish, western Bermuda. Photograph: Nicola Muirhead/Reuters
Crews cleared away downed trees and power lines today after Hurricane Gonzalo battered Bermuda for several hours but caused no deaths or serious injuries.
The storm’s centre crossed over Bermuda late on Friday and Gonzalo quickly moved northward over the Atlantic on a track that could take it just off the shore of Newfoundland in Canada today.
More than 18,000 homes in Bermuda were still without power last night, but Premier Michael Dunkley said clean-up efforts were going smoothly. He said Britain, the US and other nations have offered assistance.
“All hands were on deck and worked very well,” he tweeted. “Much to be done but we are roaring back!”
Gonzalo approached Bermuda as a Category 3 storm, then weakened to Category 2 strength just before coming ashore with sustained winds of 180km/h.
Even after beginning to move away, its fierce winds battered the island for hours.
Maria Frith, who owns Grape Bay Cottages on Bermuda’s south coast, said the hurricane woke her up before dawn when it tore the patio roof off her house.
“To be perfectly honest with you, I was terrified, partly because of the noise,” she said. “It was really scary.”
Some Bermudians woke up to toppled concrete walls, uprooted palm trees and boats run aground.
Gonzalo ripped part of the roof off the island’s parliament as well as the roof of an exhibit at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo.
But no catastrophic damage was reported on Bermuda, which has one of the highest per-capita incomes in the world and is known for strict building codes meant to ensure homes can withstand sustained winds of at least 180km/h.
Officials have not yet announced whether government offices and schools would reopen tomorrow.
The island’s international airport remained closed last night but officials said it might reopen this afternoon.
The last major hurricane to strike Bermuda was Fabian in September 2003. That Category 3 storm killed three police officers and a civilian and caused more than $100 million in damage.
The island was still recovering from last weekend’s blast from Tropical Storm Fay, which also damaged homes and toppled power lines.
The US national hurricane centre said Gonzalo weakened as it moved away from Bermuda on a track that would take it past Newfoundland and then across the Atlantic to Britain and Ireland.
Gonzalo earlier claimed one life in the Dutch territory of St Maarten and the hurricane centre said it could still whip up dangerous surf on portions of the US coast and Canada.