'Its epicentre was in the Khasia Hills of Assam, and Shillong was almost entirely destroyed. I was having tea in my room in the Darjeeling hotel at the time, and the first mild tremors rattled the cup and saucer and then upset some tea. ... I cleared out of doors with all haste just as the first severe shock arrived ... I saw the approach of the second great shock right across the town, and each wave-crest and hollow could be seen on the flat ground where I stood, as the trees bent right over.
Meanwhile, our chimneys were gaily disintegrating and falling through the roof. Photographs are still obtainable showing the track of the dead-straight Eastern Bengal railway, at the foot of the hills, twisted into enormous rhythmical curves with chasms in the ground...'
The damage to Meares's 'embryo works' was considerable. Despite this, the job was finished before the end of 1897, less than a year after work began.
In September 1899 there was a cyclone in Darjeeling 'bringing some 40 inches of rain down within 48 hours'. Meares, now working in Calcutta, returned to see whether his station had survived.
'I went to see my works in the valley below, with the Municipal Engineer, the undertaking having meantime been taken over by the municipality. As already mentioned, the power station was at the junction of two streams; a great landslide had occurred in one of them, blocking up its bed to a height of about 40 feet immediately below my small building. The full force of the stream in spate fell upon it, and before the landslip dam was breached the power house was ten feet deep in mud, only a few of the contents showing over it.
The staff got quickly to work and cleared the mud, washing out everything even to the high-pressure alternators with jets and buckets of water; then everything was dried out with charcoal fires, and after about 6 weeks the plant was working again as though nothing had happened; in fact, those Crompton-Brunton alternators are still doing duty [in 1934], to the credit of their manufacturers, though the type has long been extinct.'