We are in that dreaded time of the year again, the six-month period known as the Atlantic Hurricane Season. Luckily so far we have not had any major hurricanes or storms, but it is early days yet, as we are only about six to seven weeks in. Certainly though after the devastating hurricane season last year which saw some of our neighbouring countries, in particularly Dominica and Barbuda badly hit, the quiet period at present is welcome.
It is heartening also to hear some weather experts predicting that an El Nino will form during August and September, and reduce the likelihood of named storms. So confident are they of this occurring, that forecasters are now saying that instead of the 12 to 15 originally forecasted storms, they are suggesting it will likely now be in the region of 10 to 12. But while the likelihood of storms has been reduced, it does not mean that those which form cannot impact us. While Barbados was spared last year, the real possibility of our region having the unpleasant experience of being visited by not one, but two category five hurricanes, should still be ever present in our minds and should encourage us to ensure we are prepared should the high wind come our way.
Those storms should also remind us now more than ever, about the vulnerability of our small island developing states (SIDS) to natural disasters and that we are all just one natural disaster away from having all the development we have achieved socially and economically, washed away. In the Caribbean, foremost on the list of things to do, should be getting a mandatory regional building code in place. The suggestion was put on the table last year by some of our regional leaders and persons in high positions, but a year later, little if anything has been done to get such a code, which would feature the nuances of the Caribbean, together with the best practices in the international building industry.
We feel such a code is the way to go for our region, as we believe if formulated and then implemented and enforced as it should, it would go a long way in reducing casualties, injuries and damage to property. That would in turn reduce the need for public or private aid when disaster strikes. Certainly, it would also give comfort to property owners that certain standards were taken into consideration as it relates to the soundness and safety of the structures that are built.
We think it also important that greater emphasis is placed on homeowners insurance. For an investment as large as a home, not only is securing such policies good financial sense, but it also gives you a sense of security, knowing that once you are adequately insured you can recoup your losses should something happen.
Sadly, however, many homes in this country remain uninsured. We know times are tough and persons may think homeowners insurance too much of an expense to bear, but we urge persons to disabuse themselves of that notion, for it is better to be safe than sorry. We say that knowing too that insurance company allow for premiums to be made in instalments, where persons can pay a little every month to safeguard their homes and ensure peace of mind.
On that note, we again put forward the idea that Government may have to consider making homeowners insurance mandatory, with Government subsidising such for persons who truly cannot afford it. If that is not feasible, we say reintroduce home insurance as an allowance under Income Tax for everyone. It will likely cost Government some money, but is it not an investment worth making if persons, instead of relying on the State, take responsibility for themselves?