The Hurricane Lady

The start of June marks the start of hurricane season, which means it’s time to prepare your home and family against hurricane damage. But putting up shutters and stocking up on non-perishable food isn’t the only way to get ready for tropical storm season.

Meet the Hurricane Lady. She’s a statue that’s been protecting St. Augustine from hurricanes for more than 150 years.

She was first discovered in 1850 when a crew was traveling on a cargo ship from Spain to St. Augustine. When a storm suddenly hit, the crew began throwing cargo overboard to lighten the load. They found a statue of a woman in one of the crates and knelt before her to say a prayer for their safety. No sooner had they said the prayer, the storm subsided, and they made it safely to the shores of St. Augustine.

The crew gave her to a Menorcan family and she has been passed down from generation to generation until she ended up in the hands of the Sisters of St. Joseph. She resided privately in their convent for years until 2003, when they opened up Father Miguel O’Reilly’s House, one of the oldest structures in St. Augustine, as a public museum. The Hurricane Lady has been there ever since, according to Sister Bernard Joseph, curator of the O’Reilly Museum.

“I think the people of St. Augustine think of her as protection,” said Sister Bernard. “I don’t know when the last time we had a direct hit from a hurricane, even Matthew and Irma didn’t directly hit us. So she really does protect us from the hurricanes.”