Wild Gilbert: Remembering the hurricane that damaged Jamaica 32 years ago

If Hurricane Gilbert was a person, at 32, Jamaicans would say that its age ‘come off a almanac’, meaning that it has gone past 31 years old.

Hurricane Gilbert left Jamaica in shambles.

However, Gilbert was the strongest hurricane to directly impact Jamaica, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake. For those who may be too young to remember, Gilbert came on Monday at about 9 a.m. on September 12, 1988. When it left, Jamaica was in shambles, struggling to comes to terms with the damage it had wrought.

With winds reaching 175 miles per hour, the Category 5 hurricane devastated the island, and its span covered the entire island. Nearly 500,000 of the country’s two million people had to seek shelter at that time, and almost every home on the island lost electricity. Jamaica suffered about US$4 billion in damages due to Gilbert’s passage. And if it couldn’t get worst, 45 persons are said to have lost their lives during the passage of the hurricane.

Then-Prime Minister, Edward Seaga, is quoted as saying that the aftermath of the passage of the hurricane was comparable to Hiroshima after the dropping of the atomic bomb during World War 2. The agricultural industry was devastated, and reports are that poultry became almost nonexistent and bananas were wiped out. This led to food shortages. Luckily, other countries came to Jamaica’s aid.

However, not everything was doom and gloom after. Singer Lloyd Lovindeer penned a hit Wild Gilbert that became an anthem after the hurricane left.