Storms & The Causeway

The Causeway—the only land-link between the mainland and St. George’s—has been repeatedly damaged throughout its history by hurricanes and the tornadoes they spawn.

It was opened by Governor Lefroy in 1871 and replaced the old ferry system, establishing a land route to St. George’s. It had taken four years to complete.

Barriers across the Causeway after Hurricane Igor in 2010:

Since the “Great Storm” of September 1880 and the hurricane that ravaged Bermuda in September 1899, the Causeway has been a point of focus whenever any tropical storm or hurricane threatens the island—with good reason, as St. Georgians and any travelers needing to get to the airport stand to be cut off if that roadway sustains too much damage from the severe winds and crushing waves.

The powerful hurricane of 1899 destroyed three-quarters of a mile of the Causeway, requiring it to be completely rebuilt.

Damage from that hurricane was so severe that even newspapers abroad announced “Cyclone Strikes Bermuda: No Deaths Are Reported, but Great Damage to Property.” Those headlines, from a New York Times article published Sept. 14, 1899, began a story that went on to describe further destruction to the island:

New York Times article from 1899:

New York Times article on Bermuda cyclone, from September 1899

“The telephone and telegraph poles and wires are down, causing a total interruption of business. …

The City Hall, public gardens, and hotels and several public and private dwellings were also damaged and numerous small craft in the harbors were sunk or driven ashore. …

Cedar Avenue was practically ruined, many of its trees being prostrated and others are badly injured.

The storm was the worst known here since the hurricane of 1880. In fact, many of the inhabitants say it exceeded that gale in violence.”

In 1995, the Causeway again sustained damage when Hurricane Felix brushed the island.

When Hurricane Fabian—a Category 3—hit the island in 2003, police officers Stephen Symons, Nicole O’Conner, Station Duty Officer Gladys Saunders and civilian Manual Pacheco all tragically lost their lives on the Causeway.

The officers were swept from the Causeway after their police vehicle broke down in the rising storm surge. Mr. Pacheco suffered a similar fate.

The Causeway during inclement weather conditions in 2010:

The September 5th Foundation, a charity formed to help children whose parents and grand-parents were lost during the tragic events of Fabian, has stated: “The events of 2003 remain almost as vivid now—even though this tragic event was some nine years ago. The Service had never experienced multiple loss of life in a single event.”

Fabian partially destroyed the Causeway, and the eastern end of the island was effectively cut off from the rest of the island for several days. The Causeway shut after Hurricane Fabian struck on Sept. 5th. It reopened to one-lane traffic on Sept. 8 and then to two-lane traffic one month later after repairs were finished.

The Causeway is monitored by the government and in recent years has been closed as storms approach and winds reach above safe levels.