(Here’s the story of the hurricane)
The storm really got going around 4 or 5am yesterday – I was really glad we had shutters on our window, which made it seem a lot less threatening. Around 9, we wandered down to the dining room to watch the storm with some of the other guests and hotel staff. The staff were making coffee, and eventually found some croissants somewhere. It seems like most of the hotel guests just stayed in their rooms – I think the hotel is fully occupied, but we never saw more than a couple guests at any given time.
Overall, the storm ended up being less dangerous than expected – it didn’t strengthen quite as much as expected overnight, and the eye stayed about 10km off the coast. The peak winds in the town we’re in were around 135mph, and I believe we got about 2 feet of rain. We had some pretty good leaks in the room, and the building was shaking with the big gusts, but we made it through. The intensity peaked around mid-morning, and by noon things had calmed down. The backside of the storm never really picked up again – it got windy in the afternoon, but no more torrential rain. Mauritius got more rain than expected, and experienced some substantial flooding.
The government left the island in “red alert” until today, which meant staying confined. They wanted a chance to clear the roads and deal with dangerous power lines before letting folks out. We spent last night in the hotel room watching This Old House episodes.
The red alert was lifted at noon today, and we got out right away to check things out (and buy more cheese). There’s a ton of plant debris in the streets, and some downed trees and damaged property, but mostly things seem to have survived intact. Elsewhere on the island, about 1/3rd of the population lost power, and there was some localized flooding, but overall folks managed ok.
So, cyclone Belal ended up being a mild inconvenience, nothing worse. All the hiking trails are closed, so we’ll do some more urban exploring tomorrow. Then, fingers crossed, we’ll be on a flight out at 10:20am on Thursday.