In Deutsch


Our encounter with “Jeanne”

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Thunderstorm pictured the day before the flooding
It is September 13, 2004. As usual, we go to sleep with the concert of frogs and crickets on our camping spot at the Guadeloupe 4x4-Club on the mighty Goyave River near Prise d’Eau. Towards midnight, we hear a distant sound of thunder of a tropical storm, which comes closer and becomes heavier. Lightening brightens the night around us, and masses of water start falling from the sky, as it passes on with ferocious force. At some point, with the monotonous sound of our 12-volt ventilator and the steadily sound of the rain, we fall asleep again.





At 3am Emil wakes up as the noise of water surrounding us becomes louder and somehow different. “I am going to check the water level of the river”, I hear him say. It only lasts a few seconds until he shouts terrified: “You have to get up immediately, I have never seen such a thing before”. Within only two hours, our idyllic river has changed into a devastating monster. I am like paralyzed as, in the pale light of the lamp, I see the masses of roaring brown water forcing its way in a large band through everything being in its way. And this happens only a few meters away from our car. In the meantime, Emil runs to the gate to check the possibility of escape. “Too late”, he shouts, “The water is already entering. Even on foot we could not make it”.
Normally, the quiet Goyave River runs very smoothly

Our idyllic camping spot at the Guadeloupe 4x4 Club in Prise d’Eau
Horrified we realize that we are totally locked in by ferocious waters, which even dragged away the old truck tanker trailer, parked just a few meters away from us, which was used to wet the dusty racing tracks. We do not have any phone, cannot call anybody to rescue us, can only helplessly wait how the situation will develop. Time is creeping on while we yearn for dawn and stare like hypnotized at the murderous masses of water, which squeeze wildly past us, pushing huge boulders with it. Desperately, we try to find out whether the water level is rising or not. After one hour of waiting - what seems an eternity to us - finally a ray of hope appears as the water is retreating slowly at the gate. And one hour later, the track is again practicable by 4x4, even if totally washed out and covered with debris. Thanks God, we are safe! The first thing we need now is a strong sip from our rum bottle.


Actually, this tropical storm, which brought 300 mm (12 inches) of water within two hours, came without any warning, as the day before there was not the minor sign of its existence on the accurate American National Hurricane Center forecast. It was formed right outside Guadeloupe and on its way to Puerto Rico was given the name  “Jeanne”. From Puerto Rico to the Bahamas “Jeanne” strengthened to a hurricane. Two weeks later, it costs the life of over 2'000 people in Haiti due to massive inundations, before it reaches as the fourth seasonal hurricane Florida in 2004.
In the morning, when the water retreated, all the huge leafs of the “elephant ears” are bent

Broken bamboo stems caused by the force of the ferocious waters


We realized the full extent of the danger we were in and the luck that we escaped unharmed again in the evening, when we watched TV and saw the enormous damages caused in Pointe-Noire and Bouillante at the West Coast of Guadeloupe: Demolished houses, smashed and floating cars, the chaos in the Supermarket “Grand Marché” and flooded and blocked roads by huge boulders. We can speak of an even bigger luck that we never had to go through a real hurricane in the two cyclone seasons we spent in the Caribbean.  But it is by pure chance. Had we found a reasonable shipping fare from Guadeloupe to Jamaica, we would have been there exactly at the time, when “Ivan, the terrible” hit that island.