September 1932: Images of the Aftermath

bahamas, green turtle cay, abaco, new plymouth, history
View of New Plymouth prior to the 1932 hurricane, taken from the hill east of town. The cemetery is on the left. On the right, the dark, two-story building is the government building/jail and the larger, light-coloured building behind it is the Methodist Church. Photo courtesy of the Albert Lowe Museum.

Though there exist a number of first-hand accounts of the destruction wrought by the 1932 hurricane, there truly is nothing like a photograph to convey the full magnitude of the devastation. Earlier this year, I was fortunate to receive a group of never-before-published photos, taken on Green Turtle Cay in the days following the storm.

bahamas, green turtle cay, abaco, new plymouth, hurricane, 1932
View of New Plymouth after the 1932 hurricane. The Methodist Church has been destroyed, and the top floor of the government building is gone.

The images are from the collection of Jack Mertland Malone from Hope Town and later, Nassau. I’ve included his original notes in quotation marks beneath each image.

bahamas, green turtle cay, abaco, hurricane, 1932
“The Jail” Behind these men is the lower floor of the government building, which housed the jail. It was the only part of the building left after the storm, and it remains standing today.

Many thanks to Mr. Malone’s granddaughter, Marysa Malone, and Wayne Neely, Bahamian meteorologist and author of The Great Bahamian Hurricanes of 1899 and 1932, for sharing these rare photographs.

Marysa’s grandfather, Jack Mertland Malone, is pictured in a few of these images, but I’d love to be able to identify the other people shown. If you know who they are, or recognize any of the houses or locations, please let me know.

bahamas, green turtle cay, abaco, hurricane, 1932
“Stone Church – 100 Years Old” I believe these may be the remains of the Methodist Church. Does anyone know for sure?
bahamas, green turtle cay, abaco, hurricane, 1932
“The Quarry – Where Hundreds Took Shelter.  A Horse Crashed Down from Top.”
bahamas, green turtle cay, abaco, hurricane, 1932
“Homes Gone – They Live Outside” This was common in the settlement after the storm. My grandmother and her family propped up the roof from their kitchen building – it was all that remained of their house — and lived beneath it until their new home was constructed.
bahamas, green turtle cay, abaco, hurricane, 1932
“Looking for Bodies”
bahamas, green turtle cay, abaco, hurricane, 1932
“Where is Home?”
“Her Home” A local woman, surrounded by what’s left of her house.
bahamas, green turtle cay, abaco, hurricane, 1932
“Hotel and Library” Prior to 1932, a hotel stood immediately west of what is now the New Plymouth Inn. The hotel was completely destroyed in the storm, killing Mrs. Alice Lowe, mother-in-law of my great-uncle, Charles Gates.
bahamas, green turtle cay, abaco, hurricane, 1932
“She Relates Her Misfortunes to Me” Jack Mertland Malone talks to a local woman about her experiences during the hurricane.

Though all these images are amazing, I think the two below are perhaps the most touching. The first, because it reflects the helplessness I imagine all New Plymouth residents must have felt. These girls know that their father lies beneath the rubble of their home, but there’s little they can do to help him.

bahamas, green turtle cay, abaco, hurricane, 1932
“Their Father is Buried Under This Wreckage”

Unlike many of the other images, there’s a hint of hope in the photo below. These children, though no doubt traumatized, survived the storm. Their home appears to be relatively intact. They’re clean and neatly dressed, and perhaps on the way to regaining some degree of normality.

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, hurricane, 1932
“All Together”

Related Stories:

September 3, 1932 – The Calm Before the Storm

September 5, 1932 – Destruction and Devastation

September 7, 1932 – What Misery Lay Ahead

Sept. 5, 1932 – One Family’s Heartbreak

  7 comments for “September 1932: Images of the Aftermath

  1. Steve Albury
    September 7, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Thank you, Amanda. Your account and photos of this hurricane are very interesting….and frightening!

  2. September 7, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Thanks , Amanda , the photos gives the sense of the aftermath of such a hurricane. It is amazing that only a few people were killed .
    I have been looking for details about this hurricane for over 30 years .again , thanks for sharing .

  3. gayleupstairs@comcast.net
    September 7, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Amanda

    Thank you SO VERY MUCH for your on-going research into and sharing of the history of GTC. I am impressed that you have gained enough notoriety and credibility that others are entrusting never before seen/shared materials with you. Please, know that you have an avid audience as you explore your family history, the history of GTC and Abaco history and keep up the good work.

    When will you get to BC for your class reunion? I know the actual reunion won’t be until the weekend after I’m there, but I’ll be in Vancouver for a long weekend of Sept 19-22 and if our dates intersect, would love to connect for a shared meal or walk and some catching up. Let me know

    -Gayle

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