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Nov 4, 2016

The original Halloween monster: Remembering Hattie, 55 years on

Fifty-five years ago, a true monster unleashed havoc, death and destruction on the tiny colony then known as British Honduras. We speak of Hurricane Hattie, which struck on October thirty-first, 1961, slamming into the coast between Dangriga and Belize City. It killed one hundred and ninety-eight people and left much of the central coast in ruins. The name was retired by the World Meteorological Organization but memories remain, especially for the older generation. For those who are younger, we represent tonight what we believe to be the only moving pictures of Hattie’s destruction. As we reported in 2002, the eight-millimeter film was shot the morning of November first by Bill Wildman, a land surveyor then living in a house on the Newtown Barracks, directly behind what is now the Belize Pickwick Club. You may recognize a few faces, like the young woman walking down the stairs – that is Norma Fairweather… and the fellow poking around the ruins of the old Belize City hospital is the late George Price, then First Minister of British Honduras.

 

[Click HERE for video]

 

The hurricane season closes at the end of the month and so far one has affected the country. Earl caused destruction but not to the magnitude of Hattie.

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2 Responses for “The original Halloween monster: Remembering Hattie, 55 years on”

  1. UNCLE BENJI says:

    Hurricane Hattie. How can we forget? Uncle Benji was a young 55 year old at the time. The storm was terrible, but the aftermath was worse.

    Food shortage, lack of clean water, hand me down used clothing through the Red Cross, and nightly curfews was the norm after Hattie, If we had candles or a gas lamp, we had night light, otherwise night time was total darkness.

    Hattie? It made us resilient!

  2. Shawn says:

    I went to church with a woman who’s father was a surveyor (from Canada) in Belize at the time of Hattie. Her father shot film before and after Hattie in Belize City. The family had moved the film to VHS some 20 years ago (I met her in 1998 but have since lost track). The devastation was beyond words.

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