We are just a month and a few days into the hurricane season and already we are seeing some activity, that suggests we need to be prepared this year for any eventuality.
Over the weekend, reports were that Tropical Storm Beryl would likely pass between 100 and 120 miles north of Barbados, by Sunday night. There were predictions made for some pockets of moderate to heavy showers and occasional gusty winds. It was a relief to hear that Tropical Storm Beryl had gradually weakened and would likely degenerate into a trough of low pressure, as it moved across the eastern Caribbean Sea into Monday. Nevertheless, Barbadians who experienced some bad weather in the wee hours of Monday morning, consisting of thunder and lightning which affected some communities, causing power outages and damage to the electrical sockets and wires of some houses, have been left in awe of the sheer power of Mother Nature, even from a distance.
We may all agree that Mother Nature’s wrath was truly seen in some parts of the Caribbean and abroad, last year. On September 6, 2017, Hurricane Irma crossed the Caribbean, followed on September 16 by Hurricane Maria. These storms caused severe damage in a number of countries and territories, including Anguilla, Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Saint Maarten, and the US Virgin Islands. Reports are that there was significant damage from the hurricanes, leading to problems with water supplies, sanitation, food supply, electricity, transportation, shelter, communications, security, medical care, and mosquito control.
We truly empathise with our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean and others from abroad who have been touched by severe weather systems and their spin-off effects. Now, whilst we have been spared the true force of Mother Nature, we here in Barbados cannot sit back on our laurels and feel smug. The old feeling that “God is a Bajan” should not continue to hold water amongst the population. Rather, the experiences of our regional and international sisters and brothers in their storm experience, should serve as a wake-up call for us here in Barbados. We should hone in on our disaster preparedness efforts and more specifically our hurricane preparedness efforts, at the household and national levels. Whilst we cannot predict exactly what will happen during a tropical storm or hurricane, it is better to be prepared in advance for endless possibilities, than simply hoping for the best or later looking to react, as a bad weather system descends upon us.
We acknowledge that we cannot fully prepare for a battle with Mother Nature, if she were to truly unleash her fury, by way of a hurricane visiting our little island. Nevertheless, we can do our best to be as prepared as we possibly can be, before disaster strikes. Simple things as having a properly stocked hurricane kit consisting of non-perishable food items, batteries, a battery operated or hand cranked radio, a cellphone charger, a LED flashlight for each member of the family, a lighter, a first aid kit and one gallon of water for every member of the family, can start the journey in householders’ preparedness efforts. Knowing where the closest hurricane shelter is located and having an emergency evacuation plan for one’s family or workplace, are other steps in the process.
There is no time like the present, when it comes to disaster preparedness.