EDITORIAL: Stay prepared
We must stay prepared for the impacts of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.
Seems simple enough right.
We have been extremely lucky so far in this island, as we have had close calls and even scares from these tropical systems as they make their way across the eastern Atlantic ocean.
We can only hope that this luck continues to protect us. We have had heavy rains, flooding and some random isolated wind damage within recent years as the island felt the effects of these systems.
Last weekend, we faced down the threat of Tropical Storm Gonzalo and the usual rush happened again. Everyone ran to the supermarkets in an attempt to find things which they should have been storing up on for months.
The problem has been that during lockdown, it appeared like a disruption to most people. Stockpiles of perishables had to be used as heading out during COVID-19 was a risk many were not willing to take. We are also dealing with drought conditions as the tropical season heats up.
The challenge for this country would be the desire for much needed rainfall and the potential destruction which these systems can cause to the structure and life as we know it. No one wants the disruption and potential loss of life which these powerful systems can cause.
The impacts on Dominica which have been shown through brushes with Hurricane Maria – which rapidly intensified and caused major damage – to tropical storms which caused problems with intense rainfall in short timeframes, showcase this reality.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines also suffered major issues outside of the traditional hurricane season years ago, as a trough system dumped major rainfall over the Christmas period. Those rains caused rivers to rise and water to be pushed into areas which traditionally were protected from those disasters.
It showed that disasters are not predictable. As forecasters always state, it only takes one system to cause major damage and the frequency of rapidly intensifying systems must show to all of us that we cannot take anything for granted.
We can prepare and make sure that we do all that is within our power to be ready to ride out the season. That means ensuring that we keep our island clean. We must make sure that waterways are not blocked and that drainage areas are kept clean.We must trim branches on trees which overhang and practise plans to secure things on the outside of our homes in cases where we might have to hunker down.We must ensure that we store water and food to be able to survive in cases we have impacts.
The thought that threats are only from tropical systems must also be rubbished. We have faced impacts from earthquakes which must also be taken into account. Having a plan of what to do in cases where the earth starts to shake could be the difference between a funny yet scary story to tell to friends or family, or a circumstances where injuries or deaths could occur.
So we need to take preparations and guidance from officials seriously. We can help to secure this island's ability to ride out whatever challenge we face if we pay attention and follow directions.
If we can do it for COVID-19, we can surely do it for the rest of varied challenges which we will face.