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Eyes to the east
By Janelle Husbands
EXPERTS predicted that 2012 would be an active hurricane season and they certainly hit the nail on the head.
Like tumbleweeds moving across the desert, we see a similar image of these storms just mowing their way across the Atlantic, and where they end up is anybody’s guess.
The flurry of activity on satellite images is a constant reminder that this hurricane season has a lot of firepower and we can ill-afford to be unprepared in the event that one of them makes a stop-over.
Some say it’s the geographical location of Barbados, or the good grace of God that has allowed us to be spared on so many occasions, even when a storm appeared to be right on our doorsteps.
However, as our local officials have told us time and time again, that lackadaisical attitude and belief that “God is a Bajan” won’t count for much the day when we are hit with full force, our roofs are blowing off and our roads are flooded. Certainly we have not forgotten Tomas and the power he exhibited and was barely a Tropical Storm when he passed Barbados.
Sadly, it seems as though Barbadians only take note when these systems are a day away and then go scampering for canned items and other supplies when they have been warned time and time again, to be prepared. Admittedly during these difficult economic times, it may be difficult not to dip into the canned items to prepare a meal but there should still be a modest “stash” to ensure that the family is secure when the time comes.
On another note, this writer was watching one of the leading news networks recently when the alert about the earthquake in Costa Rica was announced. Imagine my surprise when the broadcaster stated that a tsunami warning was in place for the Caribbean. This was quickly corrected by the meteorologist who said that warning was cancelled. We later found out that message was sent out inadvertently by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre who apparently meant to send that message to the Pacific.
To say that a sense of relief was felt would be an understatement. However, that relief was quickly replaced by incredulity and anger. How could such a massive mistake be made? The Pacific and the Caribbean are in two different directions, imagine the panic that would have gripped the nation if persons had heard of this warning.
Truthfully, we like to think we could escape a tsunami but the reality is, given the topography and the size of our nation, we would be in some serious trouble. Be that as it may, sending persons into unnecessary panic is not an ideal situation either. Certainly a full investigation into how that mistake was made should be carried out by that organisation to ensure that it does not happen again.
It also reminds us that our warning systems need to be up and ready during this very active season and recognising that any other natural disaster could strike at a moment’s notice. How is an entire country notified that a warning of that type has been issued. Would it be via cell phone, social media television, radio, loudspeakers? If so, what would the response be? Chaos? Should we get out of our vehicles and run? All of these are ongoing public service announcements that need to be drilled into the minds of people in Barbados.
We also need a family plan. Many people don’t see the importance of knowing exactly where everyone else would go in the event of a national emergency, therefore our phones are rendered useless by the volume of phone calls made at the same time. Let’s not forget what happened during the earth tremor a few years ago – phone lines were useless for hours. All in all, it is September and arguably not too late to get some of these emergency exercises in place on a national level and in each household.