Late Photography Hurricane Hugo

In the early hours of 17th September 1989 Hurricane Hugo passed just south of the Caribbean Island of Antigua before making a direct hit on the neighbouring island of Guadeloupe where it almost completely destroyed two small towns leaving 35,000 people homeless. The 140 mph winds, 2.5 metre storm surge and torrential rains that devastated Guadeloupe and Monserrat didn’t directly hit Antigua but still left 10 people dead and $100 million in damage to homes and businesses.

25 years on from the night Hurricane Hugo hit the island it is still possible to find evidence of its impact. The photos here are of a small resort in Morris Bay on the West coast of the island, the resort was destroyed by Hugo and has never been rebuilt. In some places the beach was stripped of sand so that the underlying, ancient reef is exposed where once there was a metre deep beach.

I have long been interested in how quickly nature reclaims the structures of man. A hurricane is nature’s blitzkrieg, bringing major structural damage that opens the way for the less dramatic but, over time, equally destructive forces of rust, rot, erosion and plant invasion. My recent study of late photography has inspired me to bring this interest in degeneration together with identifying how the process was initiated so the decay is seen in the context of an event and a timescale and to understand whether this linkage adds to the imagery.

In the last year I have photographed this process of degeneration in Turks and Caicos and England but this site at Morris Bay is quite unique. Despite the length of time that has passed since Hurricane Hugo arrived in this bay and regardless of the lack of any visible signs of restoration this site has a permanent caretaker who keeps the ruins clean and tidy. A treasured and ancient archeological site not a deserted 20th century holiday resort. The peaceful and beautiful park-like setting at the edge of an idyllic Caribbean beach has the atmosphere of the small Greek and Roman sites that are found off the beaten track in Greece and Italy but the tranquility is a mask that hides the violence of that night ,25 years ago, when 140 mph winds ripped through these buildings.

 

Sources

Internet

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (accessed January 10th 2015) – http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/tropical/rain/hugo1989.html

Media Library (accessed January 10th 2015) –http://medlibrary.org/medwiki/Hurricane_Hugo

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