1931 Hurricane - Sep 10!
The 1931 Hurricane devastated St George's Caye, and also Belize City, on Sep 10, the 141st anniversary of the Battle of St. George's Caye. On St George's Caye all homes were destroyed and many lives were lost. An estimated 2500 people lost their lives in the 135 mile per hour hurricane.
The hurricane passed over at 20:00 UTC or around 2pm in the afternoon, in the middle of the scheduled 10th of September Celebrations held in Belize City. No announcements were made on the radio to warn the public of the impending storm.
According to Mrs Margret Pearce, the wife of Wilbur Pearce who was a young boy on the caye and survived the hurricane, the only families to survive on St George's Caye were the Vanbibbers, Mr. Love (a handyman staying with them), the Jimmy Murphy family, some families down in Fisherman's Town and the Cuthbert and Pearce families. Fifteen year old "Jim" Masson was pinned under an iron water vat, along with Margret's husband, Wilbur Pearce. Wilbur survived, badly injured, but Jim Masson did not survive. The survival of Wilbur Pearce and the passing of Heloise "Jim" Mason, is an important part of the history of St George's Caye.
Images from Belize City
No photos of the destruction caused by the 1931 Hurricane on St. George's Caye are available, but some do exist from Belize City. The flooding and winds caused major devastation in Belize Town in 1931.
ST GEORGE'S CAYE by T. T. Lovelace (a survivor)
A poem published in the Trumpet Press*, date unknown.
St. George's Caye, now sacred soil
Where countless people tried
To stem the mighty Hurricane
But alas: twenty-four of them died.
Almighty God why hast thou sent
Destruction to this Isle
Where beautiful homes and trees and Crawls
Lay heaped in many piles?
Have we defied the Laws of God?
The "Book" we failed to read?
Have we been faithless to our vows?
And here, sown worthless seed?
If so, we pray to God tonight
To set us in the path
That leads to Righteousness and Truth
And spare us of thy wrath.
Who were the dead that perished here?
On that September day?
And like balloons were carried out
Far out into the spray?
The Ushers, Woods, Harvies, Stevenson, Fuller, McLarens, Baber, Bull, Koop, Turton, Schmidt, Mackay, and Mason
They met their fate as God had planned
And faded out of sight,
Almighty God is waiting now
For us, to put things right.
Among the people who have died
An Angel sped, and has arrived
In Heaven now, she sits alone
And beckons us to our Heavenly Home.
Who was this Angel? God bless this child
Who battled heroically, in this World defiled
To save her life beneath the tank!
"Tell Father and Mother good-bye"
Before she sank!
Jim Mason, God bless her, we love her, we, all.
List of Dead from
St George's Caye
Mrs Rebecca Usher, MBE
Miss Haidee Usher
Olga Marie, Roy & Elizabeth Usher
Miss Elsa Fuller
Mrs Marie McLaren & Child
Hon Eric & Mrs Woods
Mr & Mrs Stevenson
Mr Alec Baber
Miss Marion Bull
Misses Annette & Ethel Koop
Haidee Olga Turton
Miss Carrie Schmidt
Miss Dolly Mackay
Miss Heloise "Jim" Masson
*The Belize Independent, (The Trumpet Press) was a weekly newspaper with a circulation of 1,000 copies, and was established in 1914 and lasted until 1945. It was edited by George S. Banham and Mr. H. Cain, as sort of continuation of the Belize Advertiser and British Honduras Gazette. This paper was one of the more successful newspapers as it continued publication until near the end of World War 11. (Courtesy Belize Music World)
HUNTLEY FILM ARCHIVES Courtes Belize Abroad
The Huntley Film Archives compiled 9 minutes of footage showing the devastation in Belize after the 1931 hurricane. The quality is poor, but is the only known video, and shows the widespread destruction.