The raw, ruthless power of Hurricane Dorian and its effects on the Bahamas have sobered even Dorian Gray. Usually witty and careless, he can only soberly reflect upon the past and offer up a story about Britain’s worst storm. Occurring on November 26, 1703, the Great Storm ravaged the country for over a week, killing between 8,000 and 15,000 people, mostly at sea (the figures, though unreliable, were definitely significant). In Southern England, the original Eddystone Lighthouse was destroyed as were many buildings, churches, fleets of ships, and goods.
It started as a tropical storm between Virginia and Florida then gained Godlike force as it crossed the Atlantic. Looking at instrument on November 25, novelist Daniel Defoe observed, “The mercury sunk lower than any I had observed it on any occasion whatsoever. which made me suppose the tube had been handled and disturbed by the children.” Two tornadoes were witnessed before the storm, one breaking a mighty oak in half, the other lifting a boat 800 ft. from the water’s edge onto dry land and–as if that were not enough–placing a cow on the branches of a tree.
Whilst hundreds of cottages were blown down in the Great Storm, estates were not spared. Orchards of the gentry were flattened and heavy chimneys collapsed. At sea innumerable ships were lost. It was reckoned that the final damages along the River Severn of goods and livestock alone–not counting loss loss of lives–was at least 200,000 pounds. The effects were also felt in London where several pregnant women went into labor and couldn’t find any midwives to assist them, as everyone was running away from the calamity and chaos reigned.
But all storms come to an end and at last the tempest subsided. Jane Eyre Gets Real prays for all the victims of Dorian and those still in its path.