A couple of groups were left in the hotel from the conference. One were the Jamaicans. The hurricane was heading towards their shores already and no flights were going into Kingston or Montego Bay. The others were those whose connections were not easy. These included a couple of good friends and colleagues, Craig Batstone and Renee Babb from Barbados. On their last night in town they joined me at a meal further along the strip and we watched the sky carefully. I’d heard about the way that clouds start to elongate as the storm approaches and all start to move in a very regular direction. You know how clouds at different levels can often be at different speeds and heading sometimes in vastly different directions – here they were striped across the sky all heading south westwards, and at a fair speed. Even down on the ground now, you could feel the hot wind, and dust was starting to swirl up in courtyards and from the beach and building site sand all around us.
I went to bed that night resolved to sit the storm out. A letter had been put through by the staff saying that I could stay in the hotel, but the hotel would not be insured if anything happened to me. The main dining rooms had been closed and we were to take a breakfast in one of the conference rooms. It was sensible idea; it had no windows and was in the centre of the complex, so if you were going to have a congregation of people, it was likely to be the safest location.
There was not much of a congregation that morning. There were the Jamaicans who had had a worrying night contacting their friends and relatives back home where the storm had already hit. It had not been hurricane force, but the rain had flooded many of the rivers, the valleys and the coastal areas. Basically where most people lived.