On the horizon
Tue, 09/13/2016 - 12:00am
WITHOUT formal training, persons living long enough and familiar with our weather patterns would usually say the type of heat we’re experiencing in Barbados probably means some bad weather is coming behind it.
Certainly as we continue to make our way through the hurricane season, we keep our fingers crossed that we will have an uneventful year. We say this knowing of course that regional disaster preparedness officials after carrying out an assessment, have stated that the region is not ready for the hurricane season.
While we know this to be true, it appears as though ever so often, Mother Nature sends us a gentle nudge about our level of preparedness.
Last Thursday was certainly a wake up call for those living in Barbados that in a blink of an eye you can be experiencing blistering heat and in the next, the country is under a flood watch.
In a matter of hours, we saw the impact that heavy rainfall had on sections of the West Coast. This was “just” a rainfall event generated by the right combination of heat, moisture and light winds.
It was in a localised area and that created headaches for those who found themselves unable to leave their homes or businesses, and instead had to wade or drive through the water or found themselves in a traffic gridlock.
These gentle reminders should really be a call to action. We must ask ourselves: What if this had happened island-wide? Would our drainage systems have been able to stand up to such a deluge? Are our residents prepared with the adequate supplies that have been suggested time and time again or will we see supermarkets packed with persons making last-minute preparations.
Certainly the efforts to clear the drains of grass and other debris must be commended, but as always, we must plead with those in a supervisory role to ensure that it is hastily removed. It makes no sense attacking a problem from one end and then watch it create another problem if heavy rains take that debris to another location and causes further blockage.
Homeowners and communities in general must come together and play their part. It makes no sense waiting on government officials whom are tasked with a massive undertaking and with limited resources, when a collaborative effort could be just as effective. It also behoves homeowners to do an audit of their own homes, checking all systems to make sure they can withstand heavy winds and rains. While we’re at it, remember that while Zika cases are almost non-existent, we cannot forget that the havoc caused by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito as it relates to dengue fever and chikungunya. With heavy rainfall we could easily see the breeding grounds increase.
It is also a good time to get familiar or involved with your district emergency organisation. Many of these volunteers are working tirelessly to profile communities, identify vulnerable persons and generally identify any weaknesses in the event of a disaster. The challenge many of them face is the lack of community involvement and ownership. The spirit of volunteerism cannot come alive after an extreme weather event, but it should be there before, so that working together would come naturally when the need arises.