Grayson Meade: "We received an unwelcome guest-water, water"
Maria Stories Series. By Carlisle Jno Baptiste
On the evening of September 18, 2017, while Hurricane Maria threatened to pound Dominica, Grayson Meade's job was to secure the Garraway Hotel.
Meade is a former Defense Force solider who has been working for 27 years as a maintenance officer at the hotel in Roseau. By the way, the Garraway Hotel is located on the Bayfront, at the southern end of the Dame Eugenia Charles Boulevard.
When he spoke to the Sun last week, Meade said Hurricane Maria was the worst experience in his life.
"I was calm but when I saw the sea raging into the hotel I got scared. I don't want to experience that again; wires hanging, explosions and you don't know where to turn and I had guests to deal with. This is an ordeal I don't want to ever experience again.
"Whenever a storm is pending, management always asks me to come over and sleep and so that is what happened for the passage of Hurricane Maria.
"So on the day in question, I left work, went home, put a few things together and returned with my girlfriend and daughter just past 5:30pm. I then went to my room but minutes later I got a call from reception asking me to come to see something and on arrival it was the coordinates of the hurricane which indicated that it was directly over Dominica and was then a category 5.
"I was stunned and shocked but remained calm and returned to my room to relay that information to my girlfriend. I told her, 'we are in trouble in Dominica we are going to get a direct hit from the hurricane and it's now a category 5.'
"We then tuned in to DBS radio and we were following what was happening around the country as reports came in; it was just past 8:30pm, people called saying roofs flying etc. We had a sea view and on looking out we saw the sea dirty and we realized that the river was rushing down. Things started to happen. It were terrifying.
"Suddenly things started to get out of hand. Winds howling, galvanize flying in all directions. Then the roof of the second floor terrace just disappeared…then we heard explosions- bang! part roof of the hotel started to fly out, windows bursting.
"We had just around 10-12 guest at the hotel so we called them all downstairs to the lobby where we thought it would be safe but then the front door just burst open.
"We then moved to the office but while there it became scary and dangerous and so we had to relocate to the conference room but while there we received an unwelcome guest-water, water. We were flooded and so we went to the main office where we stayed. All that time windows flying, glass bursting and exploding. It was a horrific experience and terrifying.
"We tried our best to close the front door but to no avail and we just had to allow it to stay so and as the winds howled it banged left, right and centre…I swear it was going to smash the building.
"That was the worst experience in my life…and I don't want to experience such again…We suffered tremendous damages at the hotel, from all angles. Thanks God we had no deaths."