Wed | Nov 21, 2018

Gilbert Memories - 30 years later | It was a bitter sweet experience

Published:Wednesday | September 12, 2018 | 12:08 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer
Joyce Malcolm

"I was 16 years old and living with my aunt in Top Albion, Manchester. We didn't have a television, at least I don't remember us having one, but we heard it on radio for sure and I heard people talking about the hurricane name Gilbert that was coming" said Joyce Malcolm as she reminisced.

According to Malcolm She was not worried, more excited to witness what would have been her very first hurricane.

"My father always told us about Hurricane Charlie, the 1951 storm and so we always wanted to experience a storm and we were excited when we heard about Gilbert and I think I was excited because I really didn't know what to expect," said Malcolm.

She said her family made no special preparation for Gilbert as she left home dressed to the nines for school the morning of the hurricane.

"While on my way to school I saw a classmate and she asked me where I was going and when I told her school she said 'hurricane a come so no school'.

"I turned back, went home, sat and waited. As I said we didn't make any plans, we were just excited. Then, the rains came and it lasted for about two hours and I remember it pounding down the place and the trees were blowing down and I was peeping through the window still excited," added Malcolm.

She said even to this day she still gets excited when she hears that a hurricane is coming.

"Sorry, but it is fun to watch people scampering around and grabbing non - perishables and running up and down and battening down. It's not the death and the devastation that excites me," declared Malcolm who hit the streets early the next morning to view the extent of the damage.

"We walked through Albion all the way to Mandeville and I saw some people had lost their roof and I was there questioning if all of that happened through the two hours of what seemed like heavy rains and winds. We shared a house with other tenants but I can't recall having any structural damage done to our building"

She said it was after watching the news and reading the papers that she got a true understanding of what Gilbert did to Jamaica.

"The high point for me was experiencing the hurricane, it was exciting but the low point was seeing what it did to the country," said Malcolm.